Over the past couple of weeks, I have visited several of the Kerang wetlands and
Swan Hill district lakes, mainly in search of waders. Below I have provided
some brief highlights of some of the places I surveyed, for those who might be
interested in visiting these areas at this superb time of year. Chris Coleborn
has also recently been to many mallee and woodland sites and seen some great
stuff (see recent postings), so a camping trip to this region would be well
worthwhile for any birder, be they waterbird crazy, bush-birders or both! I
camped with David Parker at Lake Bael Bael in the old Koorangie State Game
Reserve last weekend, and it was most pleasant.
Fosters Swamp, attached to the Kerang Waste Water Treatment Plant, has great
numbers of Grey Teal (c. 4000). There were few waders, mostly Red-capped
Plover, and smaller numbers of Black-fronted Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel,
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Red-necked Stint.
Only 6 Whiskered Tern and 1 Caspian Tern. White-winged Fairy Wrens and
White-fronted Chats were common in the surrounding vegetation.
Lake Tutchewop also had great numbers of Grey Teal (c. 3000), and small numbers
of Hardhead and Pink-eared Duck. It was impressive to see so many Whiskered
Terns. I observed one roosting colony and estimated there were c. 1000 birds,
and increasing! There were other roosts establishing along the western edge of
the lake so in total, there were 1000?s of Whiskered?s. Not many waders ? just
a few Curlew SP, Black-winged Stilt and Red-capped Plover.
Lake Woorinen North is one of the best lakes to visit at the moment. As some of
you may be aware, the future of this lake and others nearby is uncertain due to
a proposal to create an underground water pipeline, that will result in the
current open channel being discontinued, and subsequently water allocations to
the lakes reduced. The western and northern edges of the lake are the best
places to see a wide range of species, including Common Greenshank, several
Marsh SP, Sharp-tailed and Curlew SP, Red-necked Stint, Red-capped and
Black-fronted Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet
and stacks of Black-tailed Native Hens. On the lake itself, there were hundreds
of Hoary-head Grebe, a few Great-crested Grebe, numerous Musk, Blue-billed,
Hardhead and Grey Teal and many Whiskered Tern. The south end of the lake
contains some shallow flooded reed beds and rushes, and three Australian Spotted
Crake were seen on the 27/9.
Lake Woorinen South. Few birds in general, although the clear highlight was a
group of c. 400 Banded Stilts, together with c. 300 Red-necked Avocets and c.
300 Black-winged Stilts on the southern end.
Swan Hill Waste Water Treatment Plant. A large shallow swamp on the northern
side of the treatment ponds is by far the best spot in the complex for birds.
At present, there are 1000?s of Hardhead, Grey Teal and Pink-eared Duck, 100?s
of Pacific Black Duck, and small numbers of Australian Shelduck and Australasian
Shoveler. One Freckled Duck was also seen. Other birds of interest included
Common Greenshank and Marsh SP (numerous), Swamp Harriers, several Curlew and
Sharp-tailed SP, Blue Bonnets, Stubble Quail and Yellow-throated Miners.
Lake Bael Bael. An impressive shallow lake with nice Black Box and Red Gum
woodlands surrounding it. I have previously seen lots of Freckled Duck on this
lake, but none at the moment. The most common birds are 1000?s of Grey Teal (c.
5000) and Pink-eared Duck (c. 3000). Smaller numbers of Australasian Shoveler
and Chestnut Teal. Numerous Whiskered Terns, Pelicans, Black Swans,
Black-winged Stilts, Marsh SP, Red-kneed Dotterel, Red-capped Plover,
Black-tailed Native Hen and Red-necked Stint. Small numbers of Sharp-tailed and
Curlew SP and Common Greenshank. Boobook and Barn Owls heard overnight, and
Rufous Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, White-breasted Woodswallow, Brown
Treecreeper and Pied Butcherbird in the woodland.
Cullens Lake is probably the best wetland to visit at the moment. A whole
weekend could be spent just combing the eastern and northern edge, scoping the
lake or searching the surrounding Black Box or saline shrublands. There are
absolutely 1000?s of Black Swans and Coots on the lake, and c. 8000 Grey Teal.
Numerous Pink-eared Duck, Musk Duck, Hardhead and Aust. Shoveler. Highlights
included 100?s of Whiskered Terns, 10 Glossy Ibis, 25 Banded Stilts among lots
of BW Stilt and RN Avocets, hundreds of Red-necked Stints and Sharp-tailed SP,
one Blue-winged Parrot, two Australian Spotted Crake, one Baillon?s Crake,
White-backed Swallows, White-bellied Sea Eagle and lots of Marsh SP and Common