On Sunday morning, "Breakfast with the birds" was held at Banyule Flats,
Heidelberg. This is along the Yarra River, an eastern suburb of Melbourne.
A number of BOCA guides, including myself, introduced around 170 people to
the delights of this area with its beautiful swamp, billabong and river
woodland. In less than two hours, 74 species of birds had been seen by the
collective group, including Buff-banded Rail and Latham Snipe. These two
birds are regularly seen, by myself and others, on the litter-strewn muddy
edges of a small pool at the northern end of the swamp.
As I missed out on this pool in the morning walk, I returned there later in
the day at 6.00 pm to see if I could find the Snipe. Well, when I first
caught a glimpse of this bird with a long bill I knew straight away that I
had something different. I could only see the top of the head at first but
I knew the eye looked very odd for a Latham Snipe. Very impatiently I
waited and eventually out it came out into the open, and there it was - my
first sighting of a Painted Snipe. Unmistakeable with that white band. It
didn't hang around for long and soon disappeared behind the garbage and
I waited awhile but only the Dusky Moorhen remained. No sign of the pool's
more usual snipe inhabitants. I didn't find the Tawny Frogmouth either that
had been reported there in the morning, but nothing could wipe the smile off
my face for hours.
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