By Jeffry Farman bird watcher and photographer – Instagram the_bird_dimension
Located on the eastern outskirts of Melbourne the Dandenong Ranges are a quick and easy mountain escape from busy Melbourne. There are several separate sections of forest with the most interesting areas for birds being the tall wet forests of Mountain Ash, and the damp gullies with an understory of giant tree ferns.
The drive is around 40 kms from Melbourne’s centre approachable through Ferntree Gully or Montrose on the other side of the mountain.
Before arriving in the mountains, running out of the Dandenongs, through the eastern suburbs of Melbourne is the Dandenong Creek region. This green corridor has sections of remnant floodplain forests and wetlands, some of which are newly created.
Dandenong Creek area is in the foothills of the Dandenongs. The first site of significant interest is Liverpool Road Retarding Basin in Kilsyth South. The wetland along the northern boundary of the reserve especially the eastern sections where reedbeds and swampy grasslands are a home for Latham’s Snipe (summer).
Key species include Rails and Crakes, especially in summer when water levels may be lower. A vagrant Tawny Grassbird has been seen here a few times. The surrounding parklands hold a range of bush birds, and many parrot species pass through including Gang-gang Cockatoo, King Parrot and Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo.
Sherbrooke forest is the largest section of the park. There are plenty of Mountain Ash, tree ferns and Lyrebirds. Both the Sherbrooke and O’Donahue’s picnic grounds are a great place to start, with trails taking you down through the forest to Sherbrooke falls. The Lyrebird walk and Neumann’s track accessed from Grants picnic ground are also excellent trails to look for Lyrebirds.
Key species include Superb Lyrebird, Red-browed Treecreeper, Crescent and Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Australian King Parrot, Olive Whistler, Pilotbird (rare), Rose Robin, Rufous Fantail, Bassian Thrush.
The Ferntree Gully section of the National Park also contains some excellent wet forest, with the Tree Fern Gully track being good, but be aware it is now also a monument to Kokoda. On weekends and holidays hundreds of people do the climb. Midweek is probably better for the smaller bush birds.
Kalorama Park and Olinda State Forest have wonderful views of Silvan Dam and a variety of birds on offer.
Bird Watching At CountryPlace
CountryPlace at Kalorama in the Dandenong Ranges is a special place for bird spotting. Located on the eastern side of the mountain overlooking Silvan Dam, in the Olinda State Forest birding opportunities abound.
Many of the bird images in our Bird Gallery have been shot right here on the property. The established gardens provide a large array of native flowering plants to attract the many honey eaters and robins. Our dam is a drawcard for several varieties of ducks. And right across the road, the forest abounds in ancient mountain ash trees and ferny gullies that draw the rosellas, kookaburras, fairy wrens, tawny frogmouths, fantails and golden whistlers. What more could you ask for.
Bird groups are welcome to stay. CountryPlace has a special accommodation package for groups.