Happy New Year, all!
First time on line for a few days, and very interested to see all the
Fork-tailed Swift reports. On New Year's Eve at about 10 am there were
several - perhaps 6-10 (very difficult to count precisely) - Fork-tailed
Swifts around the gate into the Austin Road Lagoons from Point Wilson Road
at the Western Treatment Complex, about 50 km south-west of Melbourne. They
were flying very low - within a metre or two of ground level - in overcast,
muggy conditions which later turned to steady rain. The Swifts were
apparently foraging, with many jinks and swoops, but if anything progressing
gradually eastwards. There were also many Welcome Swallows, a few Fairy
Martins and at least one Tree Martin, seriously separated from the nearest
tree. As for others, this was a new species for me. I was struck by the
relative lack of bulk compared to my impressions of Needletails, and the
fact that the tail was quite short and had to be seen well to pick up the
narrow cleft in the middle; Fork-tailed, yes, but not conspicuously so.
WTC was rich in birds, as usual - many thousands of Pink-eared Ducks
especially, and nice to see Freckled Ducks at either end of Lake Borrie -
but frustrating that there was an apparently new locked gate, which the G2
key didn't fit, between Paradise Road and the Little River ford, so that we
couldn't get access to the east side of Little River at all. Any other
Werribee regulars able to shed any light on this problem?
Best wishes to all for good birding in 2003. Regards,