Trip Report: Werribee, Vic (Phalarope still present)

Subject: Trip Report: Werribee, Vic (Phalarope still present)
From: Mark Bennett <>
Date: Sun, 05 Apr 1998 18:14:16 +1000
I went down to Werribee on Saturday 4th April to see the Red-necked
Phalarope and was rewarded with excellent views. The bird was in the
same area Richard described and spent much of the hour or two I observed
it at the water's edge swimming and feeding. It is starting to colour up
beautifully into breeding plumage. I learned that this bird was actually
discovered in late February. Thanks to Wally, Helen and Rod from
Ballarat who took the time to help me locate the bird. Aidan was there
also, and we spent some time looking for other waders at the next
shallow pond along. (I have forgotten all surnames, sorry!)

It was a fantastic days birding even besides the phalarope. Here are the

        * PECTORAL SANDPIPER (1), in shallow pond further towards Melbourne
(next to phalarope pond)
        * WOOD SANDPIPER (3),     "
        * Latham's Snipe (1),     "     , great views of a bird in the open
        * Red-kneed Dotterel (6+)
        * Blue-winged Parrot (2)
        * LEWIN'S RAIL (3)
        * SPOTLESS CRAKE (1)
        * Australian Spotted Crake (2)
        * Nankeen Night Heron (1), (a new personal sighting for Werribee)

The crakes and rails were observed in a tidally affected reedbed on the
Little River (see below for directions). I arrived with Aidan on a
falling tide, just as the water level exposed the front of the reedbed
(recommended - don't bother at other times). It was in the middle of the
day but the weather was overcast.

Wonderful prolonged views were obtained of several Lewin's Rails feed
among and in front of the reeds. They were amazingly confiding, I
thought. We witnessed some aggressive behaviour towards a Water (?) Rat:
when it came too close on one occasion, a Lewin's Rail fanned its wings
and flattened itself horizontally then struck out at the rat. The rat
then retreated. Wonderful stuff and to think that in the past I had only
caught glimpses of these birds.

A single Spotless Crake was also seen but on this occasion it seemed to
be shyer than the rails.

The reedbed is a fantastic spot for crakes and rails - I think Aidan was
At *different* times of the year I have seen all of Victoria's crake and
rail species in this one reedbed! A highly recommended spot. I was
originally shown the spot by John Barkla on a Bird Observers Club outing
- thanks John. 

The reeds are on the Geelong side of the River but are best viewed from
the other side. To find them, cross the ford on the Little River and
drive about 1.1 km along the road which follows the river. The reedbed
is on your right and runs for about 50m or so along the river bank.

        Mark Bennett
        Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


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