Birdwatching Capital of Victoria
Chiltern Bird Trail Number 1
Honeyeaters and Small Birds
Keen observers in the district will note the very high densities of Fuscous, Yellow- tufted, and (in Red Gum) White Plumed Honeyeaters. These species are aggressive to other species and exclude many smaller birds from their breeding habitats. Because of this some species such as Thornbills, Grey Fantail, smaller Robins and Gerygones can appear to be absent or rare in Chiltern.
Above left Regent Honeyeater, centre Fuscous Honeyeater, and right Yellow Tufted Honeyeater.
Abve left a Painted Honeyeater, centre Eastern Spinebill, and right a Black Chinned Honeyeater.
However, in the higher ridges of the park the honeyeaters don't breed and in this Ridge Forest habitat smaller birds are common. Bird Trail 1 takes in some lower Ironbark forest areas and also some of the higher ridges. It finishes with a wonderful view of the district.
From the crossroads in the centre of town, head south, leave town and go under the freeway, then quickly turn left on to the Yackandandah Rd. Go along here for nearly a kilometre, then turn right into Lancashire Gap Rd. The corner of the Park here has lots of mistletoe and in the spring it's worth a stop to look for Painted Honeyeaters.
Follow Lancashire Gap Rd for 1.9 km and then turn left on to Cyanide Rd soon after you enter the forest. Go along this road and turn right into the Honeyeater Picnic Ground and the adjacent Cyanide Dam.
This is a regular spot for Regent Honeyeaters and usually has a good diversity of typical Ironbark and Box Forest species such as Fuscous Yellow Tufted and Black Chinned Honeyeaters, Painted Button Quail and Brown Treecreeper.
For those who'd like a more extensive walk, the White Box Waking Track circuit starts from here. Its full length is 8.5 km but it can be done in shorter loops. The full walk goes through Box Ironbark and Ridge Forest. Equally rewarding is to sit by the dam in summer, or to hunt out flowering Ironbarks in Winter. Don't worry about the cyanide in the name, it was used in gold mining days and has long gone.
To get to the Ridge Forest habitat by car or bike head back down Cyanide Rd to Lancashire Gap Rd and turn left. Go 1.5 km along Lancashire Gap Rd and turn sharp right onto Skeleton Hill track. This is a little rocky in parts but should be fine for normal 2WD cars. A few hundred metres up Skeleton Hill Track takes you out of areas dominated by aggressive honeyeaters and into habitat where smaller birds are common.
Drive up here (pausing as you see fit) for 1.9 km till you get to a very sharp left hand bend. It is not recommended to continue further without 4WD vehicles. ( Those with 4WD vehicles could continue around in a loop back to Lancashire Gap Road ).
Park here and continue by foot roughly westwards along the spine of the ridge on a faint track. NB there is a large and occasionally noisy quarry just out of view to the north of the road bend. The quarry lease pre-dates the establishment of the National Park. Please stay away from the fenced quarry boundary as the quarry has a high and possibly dangerous cliff edge.In all seasons a short walk anywhere along the Skeleton Hill ridge (or the nearby White Box Ridge on White Box Track) will produce a wide range of smaller birds:- Weebill, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff rumped Thornbill, Scarlet and Red-capped Robin, Western and White Throated Gerygone ( in the spring) Varied Sittella and White Throated Treecreeper.
About 500 metres from the start of the walk from the carpark spot the walk stops at a paddock fence. There is a fine view across the cleared hillside to Chiltern town and parts of the National Park.
Retrace your route back to Chiltern.
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