Finding feathered friends

Take to birdwatching in the Yarra Ranges. Picture: GARRY SISSONS

By Callum Ludwig

The lush forests in the Yarra Valley provides great homes for our feathered friends and great opportunities for budding birdwatchers.

The Yarra Ranges area is home to over 288 different bird species and Birdwatching enthusiast and photographer Garry Sissons shared some of his favourite places to scour the trees.

“Anywhere near a stream or river is good, I go up the mountains like Mount Donna Buang and Lake Mountain, or along rivers like the Acheron River because birds come down to the water,” he said.

Mr Sissons recommended anyone embarking on a birdwatching adventure in the Yarra Ranges to clue themselves up on birds in the area by googling or downloading apps, with options including EBird or Merlin Bird ID.

Autumn is the greatest time of year to hear the majestic lyrebirds call, mimicking the noises of their surroundings, and they can be often seen when headed towards Lake Mountain from the Upper Yarra areas. It’s also a great time to spot Crimson Rosellas and a number of honeyeater species.

Mr Sissons had an exciting find in Healesville recently.

“I was going down Don Rd along the Watts River, and saw a kookaburra being chased by something, and I decided to go for a walk,” he said.

“I found a Collared Sparrowhawk, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a good photo of it.”

The Yarra Valley Birdlife group has bi-monthly outings, on the second Saturday and fourth Wednesday of each month, with their upcoming trips including to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail in Millgrove, O’Donohue’s Picnic Ground in Sherbrooke and Australian Botanical Garden in Cranbourne.

Mr Sissons said birdwatching is a great activity for young and old, and even can be a bonding opportunity.

“For kids all they need is a cheap pair of binoculars and a birdwatching book, they can spend hours walking and not get bored because they are learning and involved with wildlife, he said.

“A lot of retired people buy a camera and go out walking and enjoying themselves, and for an old bloke and his grandson it can lead to other fun times with the kid,”

Mr Sisson’s tips for birdwatching were to use a long lens on cameras to capture birds from further away so they are not disturbed and to target the species you want to find, researching where you are going and what can be found there in the time of year.