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Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 11:09:50 +1000 (EST)
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> From: "John Barkla" <>
> To: "Birding-Aus" <>
> Cc: "Karan Kapitan" <>,
>       "David & Helen Kelly" <>
> Subject: Another day at Werribee
> Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 10:41:42 +1000
> Message-ID: <>
> MIME-Version: 1.0
> Fred Smith and I spent another enjoyable day at Melbourne Water's
> Western Treatment Plant at Werribee yesterday.
> We hoped and expected to see our first Sharp-tailed Sandpipers for the
> season, but surprisingly, could not find any.  They usually return
> around the end of the first week, or in the second week, of August.  We
> saw new arrivals in Curlew Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints, but no
> Sharpies.  Amongst the spring migrants, we found our first Shining
> Bronze-Cuckoo and a Grey Fantail on Farm Road (the old road not New 
> Farm
> Road) and a Clamorous Reed-Warbler in the cumbungi reed beds on Lake
> Borrie.  Reed Warblers occasionally over-winter, but I don't think any
> did this year.
> We saw around 50 Tree Martins along the coast from Beach Road to The
> Spit.  They caused me to stop suddenly because my first thought was 
> that
> they may be Fairies, which we normally do not see until early 
> September.
> A single Black Falcon was hunting over the samphire along The Spit
> (hopefully on the Goldfinches and not the OBP's).  This confirms that
> there must have been 2 separate Black Falcons at Werribee, with the
> second one being found dead (recent reports on Birding-aus).   Nankeen
> Kestrels are generally present in winter and become very scarce in
> summer (we went 16 years from 1979 to 1989 before we saw one on a BOCA
> December bird count, but we have recorded them in about half our counts
> since 1990).  We managed to see 3 for the day, more than the 1 or 2 we
> might normally expect.  One of the Black Kites was floating along the
> Geelong Road near the New Farm Road overpass and we saw a small male
> Collared Sparrowhawk hunting along the cypresses on Farm Road.  We did
> not see the White-bellied Sea-Eagle or the Wedge-tailed Eagle we saw 2
> weeks ago.
> There are still a few Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters on the Farm.  They are
> regular winter visitors and should leave soon.  The Flame Robins seem 
> to
> have left already and we could not find the Great-Crested Grebes;
> perhaps they have gone too.  The Australasian Bittern was still hanging
> around the 270 South Conservation Lagoons (seen by 2 other groups but
> not by us) and the 10 Glossy Ibis were still at Paradise Road.  We
> searched for a Freckled Duck, without success.  They seem to have left
> to breed.  There were  Double-banded Plovers at Paradise Road and most
> were in full, or near to full, breeding plumage.
> The Brolgas that I reported 2 weeks ago do appear to be nesting and I
> would urge other birders not to approach them too closely.  You can 
> view
> them from the hill on the Point Wilson Road (you do not need to go as
> far as the gate) or from the road through the T Section Lagoons.
> Our most exciting sighting for the day was a line of Fluttering
> Shearwaters on Corio Bay which stretched for almost 2 kilometres.  It
> was extraordinarily difficult to count them.  We attempted it
> independently and by some strange coincidence we both got the same 
> total
> - around 3,000 birds.  We watched them for over an hour.  They were
> feeding and loafing on the surface.  When feeding, they would fly low
> over the surface (never much higher than about 5 - 10 metres), landing
> with their wings raised.  They would then drop their heads and most of
> their bodies below the surface to catch whatever they were eating
> (whitebait?).  Only the wing tips and the rear of the bird would remain
> visible.  As each bird passed another that had landed, they gave the
> impression of a wispy rolling cloud.  Marvellous!  Around 100
> Australasian Gannets (an exceptionally high number for Werribee), 20 or
> so Crested Terns, 10 Pied Cormorants and a few Fairy Terns joined in to
> make it a great spectacle.  When the Shearwaters passed close to the 
> end
> of Beach Road, we had the opportunity to study their underwings from a
> respectable distance.  We called out "Hutton's Shearwater" in unison, 
> as
> a bird flew directly towards us, landing with its wings raised.  It was
> a new bird for both our Farm lists.  We looked carefully for others and
> may have seen one or two, but we could not be absolutely certain.  We
> had seen as many as 1,500 Little Black Cormorants earlier in the
> morning, so Corio Bay must be extraordinarily rich at the moment.
> Who said winter birding around Melbourne is quiet?
> John Barkla
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