Lewin's Rail at Bendigo

Subject: Lewin's Rail at Bendigo
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 18:10:32 +1100

G'day birders,

Yesterday afternoon (18/6), I visited the Woodvale Evaporation Ponds 15 km north
of Bendigo.  Bird numbers were generally low and the highlight was 8 Blue-billed
Ducks and numerous Hardhead.  Some Red-kneed Dotterels and Red-capped and
Black-fronted Plovers.  On my way home, I stopped breifly at the Bendigo Waste
Water Treatment Complex (Sewage Farm) with about 10 minutes of bird-watching
time before it got too dark.  I could clearly identify Buff-banded Rail and
Australian Spotted Crake, and had a very breif glimpse of what looked like
Spotless Crake and, oh my god, Lewin's Rail!!  Could this be happening?  I was
itching for a better look but the light was not on my side.  I would have to

No prizes for guessing where I was early this morning.  I arrived at the same
spot - a spot that I usually visit to see Buff-banded Rail and ASCrake, and
Baillon's Crake in Spring/Summer.  It is a shallow pool of water surrounded by
tall Cumbunghi on one side, and when water levels are low like at present, it
offers ideal foraging habitat for Crakes and Rail.  As soon as I set up scope, I
saw 2 Buff-banded Rail.  Shortly after that I got a total of 4 ASCrake.  For the
next 10 minutes, that is all I saw and I thought maybe that was all there was to
see.  But no, emerging from the reeds came a single Spotless Crake.  Being the
second time I have seen this species, I watched it closely obtaining perfect
views from about 35 metres with the Kowa scope.  Then wandering into view from
out of nowhere appeared a single Lewin's Rail, which foraged seemingly in very
close association with the Spotless Crake, following it around for at least 5
minutes until it was eventually chased by the very bossy ASCrakes.  They even
chased the BBRail on two occasions.  I continued feasting on this most exciting
moment, and at one stage, had all four species within a single field of view of
the scope at x20 magnification.  Magic stuff, and Lewin's Rail was a tick by the

Other highlights included a single Peregrine Falcon (viewed at close range) a
Swamp Harrier, 6 Black-winged Stilt and Little Grassbird.

I have just checked the "Birds of the Bendigo District" and found that Lewin's
Rail receives no mention - a first record for the district.  Anyone willing to
verify should do so quickly.  Any decent rain or filling of the pond by the farm
staff could see the habitat become swamped (like what happened last


Chris Tzaros

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