Saturday, 19 November 2011


Sacred Kingfisher, Sandbanks, Traralgon West
This week we were very lucky to spot two species of Kingfishers locally on short visits to Sandbanks Reserve in Traralgon West, and Wirilda Environment Park near Tyers. We noticed the Sacred Kingfisher pair on an earlier visit this week but didn't capture a clear photo. The light was better for the photos you see here, although it was beginning to get dark, as seen in the two smaller shots.

Sacred Kingfisher at Sandbanks, Traralgon West

Sandbanks was once a popular picnic and sporting area, but today it is rundown and is used as a rest stop. Most of the native vegetation has been removed and the Latrobe River which runs through it is of poor quality and high turbidity by the time it has reached this stage. It would be interesting to find out how Sandbanks was first planned out when white settlers took the land around this area, as there are some very large, old English trees there.
A bicycle race and picnic at Sandbanks in 1902

Below is a short video clip showing the Sacred Kingfisher at Sandbanks filmed by my partner Alan. Although short, you can hear the bird's call in it.

Azure Kingfisher
Sandbanks flooded at the beginning of this week

Sandbanks, flooded, the water had receded back to it's usual  depth by the next day

top North-West corner of Sandbanks, usually a small but steep bank is visible, but it's underwater in this shot

Azure Kingfisher, Tyers River
Azure Kingfisher, Tyers River
The next Kingfisher we were lucky to see this week was an Azure Kingfisher on the Tyers River, downstream from the Tyers Pumping Station. It was a very hot day and the usually deserted spot was busy with swimmers, so it was a surprise to see this pretty kingfisher so close by.  Also  spotted were Rufous Whistlers, Goldfinches, Grey Fantails, Tree-creepers, White-browed Scrubwrens, Superb Fairywrens, White-necked Herons, a Striated Heron, Masked Lapwings, Wood Ducks, Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Spinebills, King Parrots,  Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, a Peregrine Falcon high overhead (which nests on the cliff ledges of the Tyers Gorge further upstream), Wedge-tailed Eagles, and Laughing Kookaburras. Naturally we also observed the Gippsland sub-species of Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters too, the primary reason for visiting.  I noticed a pair of them chase a Rufous Whistler out of their territory, which incidentally was also very close to a spot I believe they be nesting in. We heard other bird species too, too numerous to name, but given the heat the frogs were fairly quiet. A storm and a bull-ant bite to my ankle sent us home earlier than usual though, as I stupidly walked into some long grass wearing thongs (given the heat of a 33 degree C day) while attempting to get a good shot of a Rufous Whistler.  The things we do to get a good photo! Incidentally Alan fell into the river with his mobile phone in his pocket too, distracted when photographing the Azure Kingfisher. The photos were worth it though, and so far the phone seems to have dried out and is working again.  Now, to find out more about Sandbanks and it's history is my next goal. I would dearly love to see it revegetated with Indigenous species and cleaned up, at the very least a toilet and a rubbish bin installed, as currently it's a disgrace. I have a few ideas on a community development project for it but first I need to research the background and find out who is currently responsible for the upkeep of the area.  

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