Hudsonion Godwit

Subject: Hudsonion Godwit
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:14:39 +1000

I made a dawn visit yesterday to Austin Rd lagoons (south-western part of
Western Treatment Complex, Werribee, about 50 km south-west of Melbourne), armed
with the various sets of directions that have been provided over birding-aus in
the course of the last week or so.  I parked just into the first left-hand bend
of Pt Wilson Rd and had a quick look over the fence at the north-eastern corner
of the northernmost lagoon on the west side.  Sure enough, six Godwit-shaped
things among the Shovelers and Shelducks.  It must have been very close to the
top of the tide and all six were pretty sleepy but one woke enough to carry out
some energetic preening, which included, just once, stretching its wings to show
off black linings!  As none of the other five performed such a gesture in the
course of the hour or so I spent watching, I guess I was just lucky.  The Hudwit
seemed to have a very prominent dark line between bill and eye, a function of
the separation of the white eyebrow and pale chin and face, but as the other
five kept their heads under their wings for most of the time I wasn't able to
compare this feature against the others.  It also frequently dipped the tip of
its bill in the water in the course of preening.  At one stage it spent several
seconds vigorously scratching its chin with its left foot.  I couldn't make out
any of the half-moon flecks on the flanks which show in the Pizzey & Knight
illustration.  There seemed to be two sizes of birds in the group, comparing
them with heads under wings - four (including the Hudwit) looked a little
bulkier than the other two.

Other birds present on the lagoon included Black Swans, a handful of Pelicans,
two Royal Spoonbills, a small flock of Curlew Sandpipers, a few Black-winged
Stilts (but no Avocets or Banded Stilts that I could see), and, away on the far
side of the lagoon, hundreds of waterfowl beyond the range of my optical
equipment for identification plus two unmistakable Brolgas.  The Brolgas took
themselves off around 6:45 am, I'm not sure in what direction - they just
weren't there the next time I looked.  There were also a couple of
Black-shouldered Kites and a couple of Swamp Harriers, but no Brown Falcons.

Good birding!


     Jack Krohn

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