sec: unclas BAYBOCA Trip to Mud Island

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Subject: sec: unclas BAYBOCA Trip to Mud Island
From: "Tania Ireton" <>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 16:40:11 +1100
The BAYBOCA trip to Mud Island on Sunday 24 February was in perfect conditions. 
 Sea absolutely flat, morning overcast but clearing later, very light breeze.  
We first travelled along the coast towards the Rip, getting brief views of a 
Little Penguin and a small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins.  A leisurely chug 
around Pope's Eye brought wonderfully close views of Australasian Gannets of 
all ages, Black-faced Cormorants and at least 30 Ruddy Turnstones.  An 
Australian Fur-seal lazed on the rocks.  Wedge Light was entirely deserted - no 
birds at all.  This had been reported from the BOCA Bay Trip on the preceding 
weekend.  Our final stop before Mud Island was to the Caisson, or Chinaman's 
Hat, which seems to be rapidly disintegrating.  It was however covered in 
seals.  The nearby replacement that was built last year actually had two seals 
on it.  Perhaps when it smells more "fishy" the other seals may move over there.

We finally reached Mud Island and were then ferried to the sand bank in the 
dinghy.  From the sand bank we waded a hundred metres or so into shore, never 
more than knee deep in water.  Whilst waiting for the dinghy, we scanned the 
shoreline and surrounding waters and saw various cormorants, gulls, Pied 
Oystercatchers, Black Swans (in large numbers), terns and waders.  Those 
reaching the shore quickly put up their scopes, checking out both the shoreline 
and what could be seen of the central lagoon.  Once everyone was ashore, Alex, 
the marine biologist from the Marine Discovery Centre in Queenscliff, surprised 
everyone by offering tea, coffee and biscuits.  What a civilised way to start !

We then made our way to the lagoon to check out the birdlife.  Unfortunately, 
as soon as we arrived a large flock of knot and godwits took off and headed 
over towards Swan Bay.  It seems the tides were not in our favour.  In fact, by 
mid-afternoon there were no waders at all around the lagoon.  However,  in the 
morning we had large flocks of Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, with 
Red-capped Plover, Double-banded Plover, a few Lesser Sand Plover, Grey Plover 
and the odd Red Knot.  Pelicans were grouped at one side of the lagoon and 
included some well-grown babies.  We slowly made our way along one side of the 
lagoon to the other end of the island where we stopped for a well-earned lunch. 
 The White-faced Storm-petrel that graced us with its presence last year at 
lunchtime failed to put in an appearance, but had obviously arranged to be 
replaced by the two Arctic Jaegers that flew past.

After lunch, we walked around the western half of the island back to our pickup 
point.  The receding tide had left extensive mud and sand banks around the 
island, attracting a horde of stint, sandpipers, plovers, turnstones, 
oystercatchers, herons, ibis and gulls.  Additional highlights were several 
raptors : Swamp Harrier, Little Eagle, Brown Falcon and Black-shouldered Kite.  
Back at the pickup point, we slowly made our way back to the boat.  The wind 
had picked up somewhat since the morning and it was a rather choppy return with 
quite a bit of spray.  However we were soon safely docked and unloaded at 
Portsea, ready for the long drive home.

Trip list :

Black Swan              
Little Penguin  
Short-tailed Shearwater 
Australasian Gannet     
Little Pied Cormorant   
Black-faced Cormorant   
Pied Cormorant          
Great Cormorant                 
Australian Pelican              
White-faced Heron               
Great Egret                     
Australian White Ibis   
Straw-necked Ibis       
Royal Spoonbill         
Yellow-billed Spoonbill 
Black-shouldered Kite   
Swamp Harrier           
Little Eagle            
Brown Falcon            
Bar-tailed Godwit       
Common Greenshank       
Ruddy Turnstone 
Great Knot      
Red Knot        
Red-necked Stint        
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper  
Curlew Sandpiper        
Pied Oystercatcher      
Pacific Golden Plover   
Grey Plover     
Red-capped Plover       
Double-banded Plover    
Lesser Sand Plover      
Arctic Jaeger                   
Pacific Gull            
Silver Gull             
Caspian Tern    
Crested Tern            
Fairy Tern      
Striated Fieldwren      
White-fronted Chat              
Willie Wagtail                  
House Sparrow           
Welcome Swallow                 
Little Grassbird                
Golden-headed Cisticola         
Common Starling         

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