Continuing with extensions to the book – how to sort out the thornbills…..
The thornbills are a charming and engaging group of birds when you manage to get close to them. But for beginners they are rather tricky to see – let alone identify. It helps to know what is likely in the area. If you become familiar with them via bird books or smartphone apps you will be able to narrow down the possibilites which makes it easier. Around Castlemaine you are likely to see:
However, with a bit of practice and a little bit of knowledge it is fairly easy to separate the different species. From a distance some species look rather similar. However, always take notice of behaviour and location. Some, like the Striated Thornbill, generally prefer being up in the canopy. The Brown Thornbill tends to be down lower in shrubbery as does the Buff-rumped Thornbill. The Yellow-rumped is more often seen on the ground and its bright yellow tail is obvious when they fly.
Best walks to see: Widespread in the bush – Gowar, Kalimna, Coliban water race tracks and gardens in town
Brown Thornbill – side view where breast striations are hard to see
Brown Thornbill – striations are clear on the front. Little marking on the head. Sharp, pointed bill.
Best walks to see: Coliban water race tracks, Muckleford, Folly Track, Tarrengower
Striated Thornbill – this bird is fluffed up after having a bath.
They love coming to bird baths
Another view of the Striated Thornbill
Best walks to see: Both Forest Creek tracks, Muckleford Station track, Mia Mia, Rise and Shine, Baringhup
Yellow-rumped Thornbill – often seen on the ground.
Distinctive yellow rump – very obvious when they fly.
Best walks to see: Mt Alexander, Gower, Rise and Shine, Mia Mia, both Forest Creek Tracks, Campbells Creek Track
Buff-rumped Thornbill – rump is more buff than yellow.
Often low down in the foliage and sometimes can be confused with Yellow-rumped at first glance, but facial markings are different.
Best walks to see: Kalimna, Cambpells Creek Track, Shicer Gully, Rise and Shine, even in town in winter
Yellow Thornbill – another bird of the lower foliage.
Overall impression of yellow
Best places to see: Kalimna, Mia Mia, Rise and Shine, Coliban water race walks
Weebill – often up high like the Striated, but the short, thick bill is diagnostic.
Best walks to see: Vaughan Springs, Warburtons Bridge
White-browed Scrubwren – prefers low cover. White brow not always obvious, especially in younger birds.
Best places to see: Shicer Gully, Gowar
Speckled Warbler – often hard to see. Distinctive striations