My debut at WTP

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: My debut at WTP
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 21:58:09 +1000
Hi all
I made my first pilgrimage to WTP on Thursday last week (29 March), having managed to score a day off work whilst in Melbourne for a week. My request for help was met with several replies, so many thanks to Dave Torr, Michael Norris, and Rohan Clarke, who gave me detailed replies (especially to Dave for the maps and the pre-visit conversation) and to Gavin Jackson who would have been able to take me out in the end (but by the time we spoke on Thursday morning, I was already at Point Cook looking for Striated Fieldwrens!) I was able (with a bit of pre-planning and phoning in advance) able to sort out a permit and key from Melbourne Water, picked up from the Brooklyn offices on the Thursday morning. Calling in advance helped, although there was some confusion earlier in the week as to whether I could do this at the city offices ("yes" initially, but "no" when I got there on the Wednesday). (Any impending non-permit holding visitors to Melbourne who want to know how I did this, please contact me off list.)

I killed a bit of time prior to the office opening at 8 by visiting the foreshore at Altona and then Cherry Lake, having first seen a Peregrine as I crossed over the West Gate Bridge. Lots of Lorikeets in flowering gums along Millers Road and around Cherry Lake - mostly Musks, a few Purple Crowneds and what I think were 2 Littles in the trees near the circus at Altona foreshore. At the shore itself, a single Kelp Gull obliging settled close to a Pacific Gull, so I got a good side by side comparison of the bills and overall size.

After picking up my permit, I stopped off at Point Cook en route to WTP where I saw a couple of female Flame Robins, a huge cloud of Yellow Rumped Thornbills, the first of many White Fronted Chats and a Sparrowhawk being given plenty of bother by New Holland Honeyeaters and Willie Wagtails.

I reached WTP at about 10:45 and followed a route described to me by Dave, being T-section lagoons, then drifting back towards the Werribee River via The Spit, Kirk Point, Lake Borrie and the Borrow Pits. I'm not sure I followed Dave's map and marked route to the letter, but I was able to get around, see lots of birds and only felt I was horribly lost once (all those gravel roads look the same to a novice!). I saw some great stuff, including: - 50+ White Winged Black Terns, several in full or near breeding plumage, on the ponds near Kirk Point (I've never seen them in this state of plumage before - fantastic) - 25 Cape Barren Geese at the Paradise Fields (?) - I haven't seen this species since 1992 on Kangaroo Island - 000s of Pink Eared Duck at Lake Borrie, with plenty of Shelduck and Shoveler mixed in (and then sifting through them with the 'scope looking for Freckled Duck but with no luck, but did pick out several Red Necked Avocet). Seeing them go off as a Swamp Harrier passed over was an impressive sight - good numbers of Red Necked Stints at several points, with many birds colouring up and at least five birds at the T-section lagoons carrying an orange leg flag - 2 Striated Fieldwren (a lifer for me) at Kirk Point - in the dead bushes on the right hand side about 30 metres and again 50 metres down from where the Kirk Point road turns off from the boat ramp - both gave fleetingly good views, preferring to stay inside the cover provided by the bushes - an impressive Pomarine Jaeger that passed within about 20 metres of Kirk Point as I was looking at the Golden Plovers, several of which were developing good black bellies Some other birders were doing a survey for Orange Bellied Parrots at the Spit, and had 4 probable/possibles - I didn't see any parrots at all on my visit - it must be one of my very few site lists with no parrots at all! Again thanks to all those who helped me out - I must arrange another work trip to Melbourne soon!
Tom ===============================

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