Spent Monday with my parents and a visiting US
birder, Tom Harrison, whom I contacted following his posting a message on
birding-aus hoping for some guidance during a brief visit to Melbourne.
Tom turned out to be delightful company and enjoyed his day out in spite of the
gusty northerly which later turned to a gusty southerly, making calls hard to
trace and meaning that the scope stayed in its box - my tripod is useless above
about Force 3.
We headed towards the Brisbane Ranges from the
eastern suburbs, getting an excellent sighting of a flock of Zebra Finches near
Melton Reservoir. Other highlights were Wedge-tailed Eagles and
White-throated Needletails at Anakie Gorge (about a dozen, well up in the air,
for Mike Tarburton's interest, some hours ahead of the change), half a dozen or
more Brown Treecreepers around our feet while we picnicked at Stoney Creek (plus
a White-throated Treecreeper on a nearby trunk for comparison), and a Black
Falcon just east of Avalon Airport. We then spent the rest of the
afternoon at the Western Treatment Complex, looking at Lake Borrie, lower Little
River and lagoons to the east, and exiting past the Paradise Road lagoons.
Best of the birds were hordes of Pink-eared Ducks and Shovelers (but no
Freckleds that we could find - I wonder how often I've missed them when they've
been there to see?), Avocets, Banded and Black-winged Stilts all together for
comparison, three Great Crested Grebes on the river, scads of Red-necked Stints
and a smattering of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (but surprisingly no Curlew
Sandpipers or other Palearctics, not even a Greenshank), a single Double-banded
Plover and a single adult Pacific Gull, among over a dozen new ticks for Tom for
the day. We finished off with a low-flying Little Eagle (our tenth raptor
species for the day) over the Maltby Bypass, and White-plumed Honeyeaters and
Musk Lorikeets in Glen Iris.
Despite not getting away from Glen Iris till around
9:30, and having to contend with the wind, we finished up only just shy of 100
species for the day. I have to agree with the other recent comments that
have been made on birding-aus, that WTC is an outstanding area of habitat.
Not only does it support a sensational mix of species, but the sheer volume of
birds is incredible. However, while most of the ducks (plus the Pelicans
and Hoary-headed Grebes) were in big numbers, we didn't find a single
Blue-billed Duck, and it wasn't for want of looking. Maybe we didn't get
to the right lagoons. All the same, we all had a great day.