Just came back from spending 2 weeks in Melbourne. Though this was a work
trip, I managed to get a couple of afternoons and a full weekend of birding down
there. Lawrie Conole kindly showed me around Geelong, Queenscliff, Torquay and
Werribee last Saturday (24th February), producing some fantastic birds with
Lawrie's local knowledge of these areas. I also visited the Altona wetlands and
Melbourne Botanical gardens on Thursday and Friday, 22nd and 23rd February) and
the Port Campbell area and the Otway ranges on Sunday 25th February.
Some of the places visited and birds seen included:
Melbourne Botanic Gardens –
atleast 4 Song Thrush seen on the lawns of the
gardens (seen often with the Blackbirds) and lots of tame White-browed
Scrub-wrens along the paths. I picked up a post card there stating that some
people want to get rid of the Fruit bats there. I hope not, as they are part of
the scene. Saw another Song Thrush in the Williamstown Botanical Gardens, not
far from where I stayed.
Cherry Lake, Altona – 3 species of Lorikeets feeding together – Musk,
Purple-crowned and Little Lorikeets. Hundreds of Musk Lorikeets are around
in Melbourne at the moment.
Altona Coastal Park – a Musk Duck (displaying) a few Greenshanks,
Pacific Gulls, several Striated Fieldwrens, White-fronted
Chats and a unidentified Button-quail seen upon dusk (possibly either
Little or Red-chested) flushed form the long grass beside the
Werribee Treatment Complex – a pair of
Brolgas, an Australian Hobby, 2 Black-tailed Native-hens, a
flock of about 50 Red-necked Avocets, Pied Stilts, loads of other
waterfowl (including Australian Shelducks, Pink-eared Ducks,
Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads etc). There were also some
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Greenshanks
amongst the resident waders.
Belmont Common swamp – 3 Spotless Crakes as well as one each of Australian
Crake and Buff-banded Rail and about 6 Latham’s
Geelong area – a Great-crested Grebe, 4 male and 2 female Blue-billed
Ducks, a few Australasian Shovelers and my "much-wanted" Tree
Sparrow being a new tick for me in the streets of Geelong (thanks for your
patience Lawrie). Saw also 2 Immature Banded Stilts, Red-necked Avocet,
Pacific Heron and Little Egrets at the saltworks at Point
Torquay – a
pair of Hooded Plovers, Red-capped Plover and an Australian Fur
Seal on the rocks at Bancoora Beach. At Ironbark Basin near Pt Addis, Lawrie
pointed out a subspecies of the Brown-headed Honeyeater slightly
different to those on the east coast and we also saw a Grey Currawong (a
darker bird compared to the ones I have seen in the Blue Mountains in
Point Lonsdale (near Queenscliff)
– great to see both Spiny-cheeked and Singing
Honeyeaters so close to the ocean. We also saw a Brown Goshawk and
more Pacifc Gulls here.
Otway Ranges (includes Triplet Falls) –
Gang-gang Cockatoos, Scarlet Robins, a male Olive Whistler, Crescent
Honeyeaters, Forest Ravens, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos, King
Parrots and 4-6 Blue-winged Parrots perched in small dead trees in
agricultural land, beside the roadside on the road to Triplet Falls. Some
beautiful cool-temperate rainforest was experienced on the walk to Triplet
Port Campbell NP – few Albatrosses (too
far away from the coast to identify), rafts of Short-tailed Shearwaters,
atleast 4 Rufous Bristlebirds (easy to see in the heath, near the car
parks at the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge), Striated Fieldwrens and
Southern Emuwrens amongst the many Singing Honeyeaters about.
I very much admired the views of the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The
Arch, London Bridge etc from the various lookouts at Port Campbell, and felt
that the 7-hour return drive from Melbourne was really worth it.
I must also say that there are some great restaurants down in Melbourne, and
many of my weeknights was spent in several of these places!.
I would look forward for another return visit in future.