Little Bittern Returns to Bundoora and Western Gerygone migration

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Little Bittern Returns to Bundoora and Western Gerygone migration
From: Sean Dooley <>
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2003 10:37:13 +1000
Yesterday morning (30th September) I dropped into the small yet amazingly productive wetland at Moonstone Walk, Bundoora (just near Latrobe University). This was the site where many birders saw Little Bittern last Summer. Before even getting out of the car an adult female Little Bittern flew across between reed beds. Although delighted to see it, after chasing this bird around Australia for most of last year, there was something rather galling to get it within fifteen kilometres of my Melbourne home.
I don't know if anyone else has seen this species at this site yet this season, but it does seem fairly early, especially South of the Divide. I always associate dipping on Little Bitterns that other people have seen as a height of Summer activity. Perhaps other wetland migrants such as Baillon's Crakes are similarly beginning to reappear in their more southerly haunts?
Speaking of migrants, I too have wondered about how much of a migrant Western Gerygone actually is. I always assumed so. This year at Chiltern for instance, Western Gerygones seemed to materialize on September 13. (They hadn't been calling the day before.) But in 2001 I had a record of a non-singing bird on July 31st. And earlier this year (July 5th) I had a fleeting view of what was probably this species at Newstead near Castlemaine, and on the 7th of July 1996 I found another silent Western Gerygone at Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve on the South Eastern fringes of Melbourne, a good two hundred or so kilometres south of their usual Summer range. I still expect that most do move north in Winter but it seems that at least sometimes, some birds remain and are just inconspicuous when not calling.
Sean Dooley
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