Myrniong: landscape and birds

One of the locations I visited in my recent trip to Victoria and Tassie was Myrniong, about halfway between Melbourne and Ballarat, not far from Bacchus Marsh. Melbourne’s West is drier than its East, and the Myrniong landscape is not unlike that of Sunbury, with bare hills dissected by deep narrow valleys; Lerderderg Gorge, nearby, is just one of the bigger examples.

The property was an outdoor education centre, much used by school groups, and featured an artificial lake near the campus buildings high on the hill above the river.

Looking down on the Werribee River gorge

Open woodland on the hillside between the lake and the gorge
myrniong wattles
Wattles in full bloom

This being spring, the wattles (and many other plants) were in full bloom, and the birds were taking advantage of the plentiful food to begin courting and nesting. Birdwatching was merely a break from my main reason for being there but my list of sightings included crows, magpies, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, a Coot, a large ground pigeon (probably a Common Bronzewing), New Holland Honeyeaters, numerous blue wrens (presumably Superb Blue Wrens, but none were close enough for me to be sure), Grey Fantails and some kind of cuckoo as well as those shown below.

But the most surprising of all were the humble sparrows which, amazingly, have learned to open the automatic doors to the main hall so they can come and go as they like. We repeatedly observed them fluttering up close enough to the sensors to activate them, then flitting through as soon as the door opened. “Bird-brain” is looking more like a compliment than an insult!

Spotted Pardalote at Myrniong
Spotted Pardalote
Red-browed Finches at Myrniong
Red-browed Finches, part of a flock of ten or more


Here’s a much longer list of birds at the venue, compiled by Rodney Waterman who (I know) was out and about earlier than me, had binoculars and knew the local birds better than I do. I suspect he also wrote out a list at the time instead of relying on his memory. His list includes 28 species; I listed less than half that number above but when I saw his list I recalled that, yes, I had seen Crimson Rosellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Magpie Larks although I had not written them down. Anyway, here’s his list:

  • Red-browed Finch
  • White-naped Honeyeater
  • Superb Blue Wren
  • New Holland Honeyeater
  • Crimson Rosella
  • Magpie Lark
  • Grey Thrush
  • Grey Fantail
  • Spotted Pardalote
  • Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Australian Magpie
  • Starling
  • Sparrow
  • Welcome Swallow
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
  • Short-billed Corella
  • Raven??
  • Yellow-faced Honeyeater
  • Rufous Whistler
  • Thornbill, Brown?
  • Kestrel
  • Silver-eye
  • Fantailed Cuckoo
  • Horsefields Bronze Cuckoo
  • Pallid Cuckoo
  • Sacred Kingfisher
  • Kookaburra

Thanks, Rod!

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