Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day Test at the WTP

Cricket was not on the agenda when a Boxing Day test match of the birding kind took place yesterday. The participants were Richard of RW's Birds of Australia fame and myself.

The venue? Not the MCG but the WTP - that is to say Melbourne's Western Treatment Plant (AKA the Werribee Poo ponds). In the birding equivalent of a marathon pub crawl we also took in the You Yangs and Serendip Sanctuary.

Curiously there was no hint of competition:) I had no idea Rich was on 273 for the year and I on 263!

I haven't had a great number of birding expeditions with other birders so it was a pleasure to share the day with another of similar interests and experience (sorry Rich) . Each bringing specific knowledge to the table resulted in more efficient birding and more sightings. There was still head-scratching with shared black holes (sandpipers, terns) but things still got sorted more efficiently (allocated to "unidentified sandpiper" category much more quickly).

I thoroughly enjoyed this gorgeous day at Werribee (only my second trip). The visit showcased the WTP's amazing capacity for showing grand scale as well as intimate detail. Many birds were there in large flocks but could also been seen at close range if lucky.

My combatant .... birding buddy taking in Lake Borrie (You Yangs on horizon)
One of several flocks of Red-necked avocet 
Swirling flocks of Pink-eared duck made their way directly overhead 

More flocks - Australian shelduck (above) and a closer view of the avocet below

Small ponds like this one enabled much closer viewing
Red-necked avocet
Whiskered tern
With large groups of birds comes the opportunity to observe behaviour. Here are two pairs of sharp-tailed sandpiper which were noticed to be "interacting"....

Finally a pair of cooperative birds provided the opportunity for direct comparison. When seen like this it beggars belief that one had been viewing the birds for ages before realising there were different species (Sharp-tailed sandpiper and Curlew sandpiper - lifer!)
 Two birds that I don't see close-up very often are Red-kneed dotterel and Australian spotted crake....

 The car was then parked near the bird hide which provided more good viewing.

Sharp-tailed sandpiper

Common greenshank and Red-necked stint
Spotted harrier - Lifer (quickly identified with the assistance of my associate raptor expert)!
A Superb fairy-wren Christmas spread - surrounded by the feast!
Australian pelican jetting in from Avalon airport
Distant view of Horsfield's bronze cuckoo in this un-edited photo. I do like the fence post, grasses and the slight "vignette" effect caused by the car's side mirror just encroaching on the shot at bottom left!
Welcome swallow ('though it was hanging around with tree martins) 
Finally we had good views of Great crested grebe and Eurasian skylark.

Bird on!


  1. Absolutely brilliant photos, I really enjoyed looking through them. From Findlay

  2. Top shots, top place! Congrats on the lifers, always nice when unexpected.

  3. Looks like a superb outing. Looks so clear with great numbers of birds. Would love to see that many Pink-eared Ducks together and great harrier shot.