sec: unclas Visit to Belmont Common and other places 10 March

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Subject: sec: unclas Visit to Belmont Common and other places 10 March
From: "Tania Ireton" <>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 13:24:34 +1100
Firstly, my thanks to Tim Dolby, Giles Daubenay, Lawrie Conole, Russell 
Woodford and Steve Clark for their directions and suggestions as to other 
places to visit.

I picked up Mike (my English visitor) from his hotel in the city at 9 a.m. and 
headed off down the Westgate Freeway.  First stop was at Point Cook where 
Spectacle Lake looked almost totally dry.  We went to the birdhide on the left 
of the road and were astonished at the large number of birds present.  
Black-winged Stilt, Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Hoary-headed 
Grebe, Australasian Grebe and Black Swan were all seen.  Driving out a Collared 
Sparrowhawk tantalised us with brief glimpses as it slipped from tree to tree, 
hiding in the thickest parts of the foliage.  We then called in briefly at the 
Austin Road lagoons hoping to see the pair of Brolga that have recently been 
reported.  No sight of them but amongst the myriad of ducks and ibis were 
several Royal Spoonbill - a lifer for Mike.  As he spent the next few minutes 
staring through the scope at these beautiful birds, a movement in the sky off 
to the left attracted my attention.  Two very large birds were flying towards 
the lagoons.  Quickly distracting Mike from his spoonbills we watched as the 
pair of Brolga flew gracefully to the end of the lagoon and landed well hidden 
behind some long grass, presumably in some low ground.  Mike could not get over 
the size of the birds - another lifer for him.

Our next destination was the bird hide at Belmont Common.  The water has 
retreated very far, with only a large pool left over on the left.  Superb 
Fairy-wrens bounced over the mud whilst Red-browed Finches fluttered through 
the reeds.  Only about half a dozen ducks (Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal 
and Grey Teal) were present with Dusky Moorhen.  As I watched the fairy-wren I 
suddenly realised that one was a Little Grassbird, hopping over the mud with 
its tail slightly cocked, pretending to be a fairy-wren.  Mike had only ever 
heard them before and was amazed to see this very shy and retiring bird several 
feet out from the reeds.  Just at that moment, a Spotless Crake appeared along 
the edge of the drying mud to the left of the birdhide.  It wandered back and 
forth along the mud for a few minutes and then disappeared behind some long 
grass.  So far so good - three stops and 4 lifers for Mike.  Although we 
checked the small swamp near the golf club, only European Goldfinch, Red-browed 
Finch, New Holland Honeyeater and White-plumed Honeyeater were present.

Off to Point Henry and the Cheetham Saltworks.  Scanning the lagoons along the 
road produced Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Common Greenshank and 
Marsh Sandpiper, as well as large numbers of Silver Gull.  The road down to 
Point Henry was more productive as we finally found the Banded Stilt that we 
had been looking for - a few hundred birds scattered in small groups through 
several lagoons.  Mike was very impressed with such an attractive bird.  On the 
bank just behind the Banded Stilts was a Little Egret - a wonderful view 
through the scope and, altough not a lifer for Mike, it was an Australian tick. 
 We then went down to Queenscliff and had a good look around the town and the 
estuary but no new ticks for Mike.  The day finished as I dropped him at the 
airport that evening.

It's Mike fourth visit to Australia but as it is always on business it is very 
difficult to fit birding in about his work committments.  He managed to add 33 
species to his Australian list this time (in 3 days of birding), bringing his 
total to around 167 species.

Tania Ireton
Melbourne, Victoria.

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