Twichting the Red-necked Phalarope at Werribee STW.

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Twichting the Red-necked Phalarope at Werribee STW.
From: "Rob Quinan" <>
Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 17:20:18 +1100
Hi All.
Just a quick report on a dash down to Werribee made by Robin Benson, Alan Morris and me to twitch the Red-necked Phalarope and Long-toed Stint reported recently.
We left the Central Coast (NSW) at 5am, Friday 30th and travelled through to Werribee, arriving about 3.30 pm. Basically straight round to the Treatment Works and to the 35E Conservation ponds. We we confronted with a huge number of waders and despite a search  with 3 scopes, failed to see either of the target species on the western pond.
Moving to the eastern pond we again found a very large number of waders that we tried to sift through. We were mainly concerned with finding the Phalarope at this point as it would be a new bird for all three of us. ( Only AKM had yet to see the Stint).
We figured the Phalarope would stand out, so failing to see it here we went round to the 85WC pond where it had first been found. Plenty more waders here, but within a few minutes we were onto the Phalarope! It was across the pond near a long line of Shelducks. We watched the bird for quite a while, being captivated by the energy of this dainty bird. It never stopped moving for more than a second, going back and forth along the line of Shelducks, occasionally doing its little spin, mostly anticlockwise, but I did see one short clockwise spin.
Feeling very chuffed (or is that choughed?) we decided to head back to the 35E ponds to try for the Stint again. We went back via the shoreline, seeing many more waders roosting or feeding there. We estimated about 10 000 waders all up, but how accurate this figure is anybody's guess.
Back at the western 35E pond, wader numbers were much lower than before. We checked the eastern pond and numbers were better there, so we tried our luck. Within a short time we had a Long-toed Stint in all our scopes. Fortunately, it was very near the road where we were parked, otherwise I don't know if we would have picked it from the many hundreds of Red-necked Stints scattered over the large pond area.
Also fortunately, we were able to observe it with both Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and RN Stints. We could clearly see how different it was to the other Stint. It has been described in books as like a 'small Sharp-tailed SP' and we all agreed this was an apt desciption. We also noted it's different feeding habits to the RN Stint.
We continued watching this bird, having a celebratory ice-cold drink, and then headed back for dinner and bed. Up early next morning and home by 4.30 pm, Saturday 31st.
Many thanks to Bob Swindley and Danny Rogers for finding these birds and for others' reports to Birding-Aus to let us all know about them.
Rob Quinan
Central Coast, NSW.
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