Rog and I spent a lovely day in Chiltern this week. It was our seventh trip this year, so I wasn't expecting any surprises. But, while the media is celebrating anniversaries (JFK's assassination, fifty years of Dr Who) I am rejoicing in a remarkable collection of firsts. It rained all morning, but still we had some great sightings. Chiltern never lets me down!
This was the first time that I witnessed Painted Honeyeaters at Lappin's Dam in the Chiltern/Mt Pilot National Park. Painted Honeyeaters are becoming more easily seen around Chiltern and are now just about guaranteed at Bartley's Block over summer.
This was the first time I'd seen Diamond Firetails at No 2 Dam. Firetails, too, are becoming more easily seen around Chiltern. I've often seen them at No 1 Dam and I've seen them several times in Rutherglen at the ephemeral swamp and around the gate entering Lake Moodemere.
This was the first time I'd seen Great Crested Grebe at No 2 Dam.
This was the first time I'd seen White-throated Gerygones at Cyanide Dam.
This was the first ever Black-eared Cuckoo I've seen anywhere in Chiltern. It, too, was at No 2 Dam.
This was the first time I'd witnessed a Rufous Songlark doing a whisper call. It was a female and she had a large insect in her beak. She was making a very quiet rattle call.
This was the first time I'd heard a Satin Bowerbird making a downward whistle, ending in a harsh squawk. This was the first time I'd seen Satin Bowerbirds in Chiltern/Mt Pilot National Park. I am familiar with Satin Bowerbirds and thought I knew their calls, but this whistle was different. It was extremely loud, and slightly reminiscent of the Sooty Owl's falling bomb call.
This was the first time I'd ever seen a white wallaby in Victoria. I say white, not albino, as it had black eyes. It was at Cyanide Dam in the Honeyeater Picnic Area. The only other place I've ever seen white wallabies is in captivity in Bordertown, South Australia.
And, one last record, which wasn't a first but a second. This was just the second time I've seen Leaden Flycatchers in Chiltern. They were near Cyanide Dam. I believe that the first time was last summer. It would be nice to think that Leaden Flycatchers, along with Painted Honeyeaters and Diamond Firetails, are becoming more common around Chiltern.
In my book 'Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia' I list Chiltern as number 5. Sites 1-4 offer seabirds and waders. (They are Broome, Werribee, Cairns and Macquarie Island.) I believe Chiltern really is the top spot for bush birds. It is true: Chiltern never lets me down!