sec: unclas Trip to Mud Island, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria

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Subject: sec: unclas Trip to Mud Island, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria
From: "Tania Ireton" <>
Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2001 15:08:59 +1100
On Sunday 25 February, BAYBOCA had a trip to Mud Island in Port Phillip Bay.  
Thirty-five intrepid birders met the "Kyena" at Portsea Pier to be greeted by 
Ivan, the captain, and Mark Rodrigue, a marine biologist from the Marine 
Discovery Centre at Queenscliff.  Although we hoped to be able to visit Pope's 
Eye and Wedge Light, the tides were going to be against us both ways so we had 
to miss them.  However, we did visit the Caisson, or Chinaman's Hat, which had 
its usual array of male Australian Fur-seals of various sizes.  Most very 
sunbaking on the top of the platform but several were rolling around in the 
water.  Black-faced Cormorants were perched on the few remaining beams of the 
roof, much to the delight of two of our party who were visitors from overseas 
as these were the only Australian cormorants that they had not already seen.

The boat arrived at Mud Island and three Ruddy Turnstone were spotted on an 
adjacent sandbank.  We were ferried to the nearest sandbank in groups of 6 in 
the small dinghy.  The first few to land did not go far - scopes were out and 
cries of Red Knot !  Pacific Golden Plover !  Crested, Common, Little and Fairy 
Tern !  soon had the later arrivals queueing for a view.  Very slowly, we waded 
ashore, continually stopping to check the birds.  Mark managed to get most of 
the group together to give us a talk on the history and ecology of Mud Island 
but there were still surreptitious glances through binoculars and scopes.  
Close views were obtained of Double-banded and Red-capped Plover and a single 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was spotted amongst the Red-necked Stints.  Several 
Great Knot were sighted further along in the shallows.

We next headed along the beach and then around the edge of the central lagoon.  
More Double-banded and Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper 
coming into breeding plumage, Common Greenshank and Pied Oystercatcher were 
seen as well as Black Swan and a large number of Australian Pelicans, most of 
whom seemed to be well-grown young.  And then, a real highlight !  Three Lesser 
and one Greater Sand Plover  standing together in a group, allowing a 
comparison to be made.  We made our way to the end of the island through the 
lagoon and back to the outer shore.  Whilst we stopped for lunch, Mark managed 
to catch a small Banjo Shark - in his bare hands no less - and gave us a 
fascinating insight into the ecology of this creature.  Several people did some 
"ponding" and caught crabs, tiny shrimp and a number of vegetarian snails, all 
of which were returned carefully to the water.  Then, just on the other side of 
a nearby sandbank - a White-faced Storm-Petrel dancing above the waves.

After lunch we started back through the central lagoon, pausing often to check 
the birds.  Bar-tailed Godwit and Caspian Tern were added to the list and then 
a large flock of waders came wheeling over the lagoon, led by 5 Grey Plover.  
"Black armpits !" was the cry.  Reluctantly we waded back to the boat and 
headed back to Portsea.  A total of 39 species were recorded.  A wonderful 
day's birding !

Black Swan
Australian Shelduck
White-faced Storm-Petrel
Australasian Gannet
Little Pied Cormorant
Black-faced Cormorant
Pied Cormorant
Australian Pelican
White-faced Heron
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Swamp Harrier
Brown Goshawk
Bar-tailed Godwit
Common Greenshank
Grey-tailed Tattler
Ruddy Turnstone
Great Knot
Red Knot
Red-necked Stint
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Pied Oystercatcher
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Red-capped Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover
Pacific Gull
Silver Gull
Caspian Tern
Crested Tern
Common Tern
Little Tern
Fairy Tern
House Sparrow
Welcome Swallow
Little Grassbird
Golden-headed Cisticola

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