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Bird survey – Young's Swamp, Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve

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Meeting point: cnr Spillers & Brodrick Roads, Macclesfield (near 310 Spillers Rd)

310 Spillers Road

Macclesfield, VIC 3782


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Event description
A start timed to catch the bird's morning foraging. Seldom surveyed, we'll record birds seen at Young's Swamp, on Cockatoo Creek in YNCR

About this event

We'll walk a length of track running alongside Cockatoo Creek in a section of Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve that the locals walk, but hardly anyone else goes to. A 6+ hectare habitat restoration project is underway, converting once grazed, but marginal, farmland into future Leadbeater's Possum and Helmeted Honeyeater habitat. We'll be walking 5-6 km and will do a bird survey as we go.

This morning is all about learning from each other, with a focus on enjoying being out in the bush together. No experience is needed, just a willingness to participate.


NOTE. All Friends of HeHo volunteer activities will be managed in alignment with the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Friends COVID Safe Plan, including the need for 1.5m physical distancing, good hygiene and the wearing of face masks where required. If you feel at all unwell on the day, please do not attend and call/text Sue to let her know (0490 747 665).

Also note. There are no facilities at this site (eg there are no buildings, toilets, seats etc), so BYO everything you need for a field based (bush walk) activity. As it's a bush toilet event, you are free at any time to find a suitable bush when we are on site.

At 8.30am meet Sue at the corner of Spillers and Brodrick Roads. Look for the yellow A-frame sign on the road verge. Sign in, grab your water and birding gear and be ready to join the team.

No later than 8.45am we'll be heading off for our survey. Please be aware that Yellingbo is a gated and locked Reserve. We will be locking the gate before we head off at 8.45am for our survey. Please ensure you leave adequate travel time. We will return to our cars around 11.45am. If you need to leave earlier than our end time, please talk to Sue beforehand.

Our walk will be approx 5-6 km, covering a 3-4 km, winding stretch of the creek.

It's National Volunteer Week, so with that in mind, we'll stop mid-way at a great spot on the creek and celebrate with cake - Sue's shout (as long as COVID restrictions allow sharing). 

At 12 noon we'll be back at our cars and start to wind up. You can stay a little longer to explore the immediate area if you choose, perhaps getting your binos out. Instead you may like to get out your BYO cuppa, biscuits and chair to join others - in a 1.5m social distancing gathering - for a warming snack before heading home. It's your choice.

By 1.00pm we need to have completed our virtual group high-5, signed out (to enable COVID-19 tracing if required) and left.

Some finer detail - about the surveys

We'll be using two standardised survey techniques for our bird survey, a 5 km search and a 3.2 ha, 20-minute search. These types of survey are recognised as providing valuable data that can be used to estimate population trends of species. If you haven't done bird surveys like this before, we will show you how.

If there are cans/bottles/plastic lying around, we'll collect these too. Litter in the water is a major cause of a slow, cruel death for animals such as platypus and water birds. 

Along the way, anything living (plant, bug, fungi etc) that you find interesting will be of value to us as we record what we see and hear in the Reserve.

I will be using the magic of the Citizen Science apps iNaturalist, Birdata &/or FrogID to record and verify the species we observe.

It's not required, but I won't necessarily see what you see, so if you'd like to help by adding your sightings, you can. No experience or knowledge needed. You'll just need a smartphone (with apps downloaded and register if needed) or a camera on the day and be prepared to share photos of what you find. I'm very happy to show you how on the day. In fact, I'd love to :)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answered

What COVID-19 precautions are being taken?

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and of the broader community is of paramount importance to us. We will be conservative in our approach, and don't apologise for that. We ask for your cooperation and respect for what the event leader requests in these challenging times.

All Friends of HeHo volunteer activities will be managed in alignment with the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Friends COVID Safe Plan, including the need for 1.5m physical distancing, good hygiene and the wearing of face masks where required.

If you feel at all unwell on the day, please do not attend and call/text Sue to let her know (0490 747 665).

Can I attend if I live, or spend time (eg shop, work), in an area that the Victorian Government has declared a COVID-19 community transmission hotspot?

No. The registration process asks for your suburb and postcode to help us monitor who is coming in case of any changed advice from the Victorian Government.

We ask that you also keep yourself informed and let us know if you should not attend an activity you are registered for, or conversely, could now attend.

What if someone doesn't do the right thing at an activity?

Any breach of what is reasonably asked jeopardises the health of others and potentially the extended HeHo program (our workplace could be put into isolation/quarantine). Any breaches will not be tolerated and that person will be asked by the activity leader to leave. We don't apologise for being strict about that. The aim is a good experience for all.

I'm registered. Can I bring someone else with me?

No. To ensure we meet our COVID Safe Plan requirements, including number limits, only registered participants may attend.

How will you ensure I don't get fined because the activity (group gathering) is different to what the Victorian Government allow?

The planned activities are permitted under current Victorian Government (Vic Govt), Parks Victoria (PV) and Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater (FoHH) COVID-19 restrictions and COVID Safe Plans.

However, COVID-19 restrictions can change with little warning. We will monitor this and adapt the program according to the latest requirements eg maximum participant numbers - inclusive of any paid staff attending. At our discretion, we may choose to be more conservative than the current restrictions.

All activities will require pre-registration, with registrations closing 24 hours in advance of a planned activity. A waiting list will be maintained. When you register, you will be automatically advised if you either have a ticket and can attend, or are on the waiting list which means you cannot just turn up. For those on a waiting list, if a space becomes available, you will be advised. If certain activities prove popular, more date/s will be scheduled where possible.

Our group gatherings maintain a distance from all other gatherings, where possible. The meeting point listed is important to ensure we don't impact on other group activities, such as the nursery, habitat restoration and field programs.

Can I arrive later than the arrival/start time?

No. We need to be strict about these. You need to be able to commit to the arrival/start times listed.

Can I leave early?

Maybe, with prior knowledge. If you need to leave earlier than listed, this is OK if we're near your car. Please talk to Sue if you think this will apply to you. It helps if you don't wait and ask on the day (except for unplanned circumstances!).

Is there a minimum number for an activity to proceed?

Yes. Minimum numbers are at the discretion of the activity leader. You will be advised with at least 24 hours notice if minimum numbers aren't attained. We will reschedule where possible.

Can we carpool?

No. The message has been consistent. Unless it's someone from your own immediate household, avoid carpooling.

What equipment will I have to share?

The activities are being planned so that very little 'special' equipment is needed. We will bring cleaned equipment eg binoculars, planting tools with us, and provide disposable gloves/disinfecting wipes for anything that may need to be shared. It is recommended however, that you BYO any personal hygiene items you would want. Be mindful that just getting equipment out of the car means someone has handled it.

See the 'What to bring' list for further information, and add whatever you would want to make your day more comfortable.

What to bring

To every activity:

  • your own drinking water is required (1 litre minimum). You will not be near any taps
  • your mobile phone. We need to be able to contact you at any time
  • expect to get dirty, or perhaps even muddy, remembering that Yellingbo is a swampy area. Wear appropriate clothing for time in the bush, including long sleeves/pants. Closed toe shoes/boots are required. Gumboots are likely to be a good idea in the days following rain
  • hat, sunscreen, insect repellant (or raincoat if showers are expected)
  • a pocket full of toilet paper/tissues (for the bush toilet)
  • your own tea/coffee, cup, food, cutlery, chairs etc. Sharing is not permitted, so please bring what you need
  • we will provide disinfecting wipes for any shared equipment we need for the activity, a first-aid kit, disposable gloves and hand sanitiser. Please also bring the personal hygiene items you would want
  • For the ''Bird, Platypus, Flora &/or Fungi surveys' and 'Nature Walks': binoculars or camera (if you have them), notepad and pen (no voice recording please so we can keep noise levels done and listen), any fauna/flora ID book or app you may want. NB we do not use bird call apps or playback at surveys
  • For the 'HeHo habitat planting' activities: gardening gloves (optional)
  • For the 'Let's get it done group' activities: Optional: secateurs and/or long-handled loppers, binoculars and GPS device.

You haven't said you'll do or bring things I would want?

Bring what will make you feel comfortable about participating in the planned activity eg you may like to bring your own planting tool. If you still feel uncomfortable, please listen to that inner voice and consider whether this is the right activity for you to attend. If you're opting out, please also consider telling Sue why. We are open to planning a different type of activity that would make it possible for you to attend, where we can.

Can I share something I bring?

No, sorry, not until COVID Normal is reached for Victoria. No exceptions.

Will toilets be available?

No, expect that they won't be. We are required to distance from other program groups (where the toilets are). Expect that you will not be able to access toilets in the Reserve, on any day, in the foreseeable future. Expect that all activities will be 'bush toilet' events, and come prepared.

Under what circumstances would you cancel an activity?

Our usual extreme weather cancellation policy will apply - all activities are automatically cancelled on days of Total Fire Ban or if winds are expected to be 50 km/h or more. In addition, there's no prizes for toughing it out. If it's too wet or local conditions unsuitable, we will reschedule - watch out for Sue's text the day prior. We are in the Yarra Valley, so expect it to be cool-cold in the morning. The dropping air here is one of the key reasons Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve has the plant species that enable the Helmeted Honeyeater to exist here.

Will it be enjoyable?

We really hope so! The focus of activities will be on just getting out and doing it. Our objective is to get something really needed done, and to enjoy doing it together.

Can I ask another question?

Absolutely! At any time, please text Sue your question. Please be aware that Sue works 1 day p/wk. Her phone will be turned on the day prior to an event, but turned off after 5pm.


Meeting point: cnr Spillers & Brodrick Roads, Macclesfield (near 310 Spillers Rd)

310 Spillers Road

Macclesfield, VIC 3782


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