At 7:20 this morning Joy Tansey arrived at my front door and we headed
out into the wilds of the Melbourne suburbs. First stop was the ponds on
Moonstone Walk to find the Little Bitterns recently mentioned on B-A
(thanks Steve Clark). When we arrived and saw the gazebo we also saw a
group with binoculars and scopes near the fence, so we joined them.
Across the pond, right where they should be, was the female, sunning on
the top of the reeds and the male perched below her near the water. By
8:15 they had both retreated out of sight. A perfect start, especially
as Blue-billed Duck, Australian Grebe and Hardheads floated in the
foreground along with all the other expected locals. Next we went to the
back of the adjoining pond to look at a very obliging Baillon?s Crake.
With such a good start it was then off to Banyule Flats and a walk along
the Yarra. The swamp is all but dry but viewing from the fence above it
was excellent. Black-wing Stilt with young, female Shoveller,
Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel, and at least a dozen
Latham?s Snipe dotted across the flats. Gorgeous!
On a role, we headed for Irvine Rd and Chelsworth Park. The water level
in the swamp areas has dropped alarmingly since I was there on New
Year?s Day and it wasn?t until we walked around past the batting nets to
the back of the swamp that we found the Spotless Crake ? and its little
black fuzz-ball of a chick. As we stood and mused we heard a strange
call above us and, Yes!, at last, a Bulbul. Well, not quite last. Back
near the car park, in the muddy area below the seats was a Buff-banded
Rail feeding in the remaining puddles. Double Gorgeous. Count for the
morning was well over 70 species.
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