Birds at the dark sky site

27 December 2019

As you probably know, not only am I an amateur astronomer, but I'm also a bird watcher.

My wife says I really only have one hobby - expensive optical equipment.

While I've talked - at length - about the Astronomical Society of Victoria's dark sky site near Heathcote (Vic) before, there is an aspect of it that I don't think I've mentioned.

Without being too specific about the location of the place, it's away from any built-up areas and surrounded by box-ironbark forests. This means birds. The birds there are great.

The big problem is hats. If I'm wearing my astronomer's hat I tend not to concentrate on the birds, either because I'm setting up, tearing down, or being otherwise distracted by people or dinner.

I spotted this bird on my most recent trip. I initially thought it was a Restless Flycatcher, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a Hooded Robin.

While I was photographing him, I also got a rather poorly-lit shot of a Rufous Whistler.

On the same trip there was a Peaceful Dove "toodleooing" constantly, and Woodswallows circling above and landing in the taller trees at dusk.

At various times of year there are Robins on the observing fields (what type I'm not sure - see comments above about hats), and White-browed Babblers in the brush around the fields. The forest surrounding is alive with Thornbills, Honeyeaters (it's where I ticked a Fuscous), Pardalotes, Fantails, as well as the more common Magpies, Parrots, Cockatoos, etc. Raptors are not so common, but they're around.

The one bird that I have actually looked for and not found is a Swift Parrot. The environment and location are right - I'm sure they'll turn up at some stage.

When birds are reported (onto Birdline or whatever) the place is referred to as "private property", with the location specified only generally, and you need to be a member of the ASV ( to enter.

But perhaps that's a good enough reason for a birdo who is into astronomy to join!