Excursion to Serendip Sanctuary

Bush Stone-curlew

Bush Stone-curlew

For this Saturday excursion we enjoyed a chilly but fine day at the Serendip Sanctuary near Geelong (free entry). Jan from Geelong FNC joined us.

She passed on the excellent Sanctuary Fauna guide and maps. Jan volunteers at the Sanctuary each Monday morning which includes preparing food and feeding the many birds and animals.

Australian Bustard

Australian Bustard

Jan escorted us around the Wildlife Walk in the morning. This trail meanders around grassland areas holding Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp wallabies and Pademelons plus families of white winged choughs.

We moved on past pond areas with chestnut teals, grey teals and a freckled duck, black fronted dotterels and onto the Walk Through bird aviaries.

These allowed close up views of blue faced honey eaters, white faced herons, tawny frogmouths, painted button quail, buff banded rails. Red browed finches found their way in through the wiring. In single cages were masked owls, one nesting on the ground amongst shrubbery, bush stone curlews and wood ducks.  8 Curlews, due to a successful captive breeding program, are soon to be released into “feral- free” sites owned by Australian Wildlife Conservancy in Vic & NSW . We walked past other fenced areas containing brolgas, Australian bustards, Emus and Cape Barren geese with chicks.

We returned to the picnic area for lunch and then Matt Wills, the Head Ranger came to speak to us. The Sanctuary is managed by Parks Victoria  and 4 staff are employed. With the help of volunteers they care for the 250 hectare sanctuary. The 70 hectare inner fenced area is well managed but the large outer area makes weed and pest control difficult.

Matt told us that the animals/birds selected for the Sanctuary are indigenous to this area. Serendip’s captive breeding program includes the brolga, bustard, eastern barred bandicoot, freckled duck and the Curlew as mentioned above. Matt spoke of controlling the numbers of certain animals/birds. They use fake eggs under some they don’t wish to breed, and contraception is being used on 45% of the kangaroos to keep the numbers around 350.

Emu numbers are generally ok but they have bored small holes in unwanted eggs when the male has left the nest for a short while. We commented on the cute Cape Barren geese chicks and Matt said many don’t survive as the Whistling Kites, which are common in the area, favour them for food.

After our lunch talk, we all went along further paths to a larger wetland area. Here were bird hides from which we saw Hoary headed and Australian Grebes, Shovelers, black ducks, yellow billed Spoonbills, Stilts. On my return journey 3 of us had a great view of a whistling kite eating something while on a tree branch- we wondered if it was one of our Cape Barren geese chicks?. Then it was home time and we vowed we must visit this area again soon.

Thanks to Val  for this  report on the Ballarat Field Naturalists’ August excursion.

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