Please help a novice birder!

To: <>
Subject: Please help a novice birder!
From: Catherine Sheedy <>
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2008 17:22:54 +1100
Dear all...

I am very much in need of help in solving an identification problem!

I live in Warrnambool, Victoria, where my house is settled directly opposite 
the Merri Wetlands, nearer to the Levy's Point section of the Merri River. 
Facing my backyard is open farmland, which is subjected to yearly flooding when 
the rain falls. There is the 'official' Merri River cutting below our backyard, 
whereas at the back of the farmland, there is an 'unofficial' Merri River below 
the coastal shrublands.

It is here that I have recently been focusing my binoculars on over the past 12 
years we have lived, but more enthusiastically over the past year or two. 
Today, at approx. 3:15pm, I was taking in all of the fascinating birds resting 
in the lazy summer sun (Little Pied Cormorants, Pacific Black Ducks, a Great 
Egret and a Great Cormorant) when I caught a flash of movement in and around 
the base of a isolated tree near the river's edge.

What I saw were 5 birds that bore the resemblance of a moorhen, yet I couldn't 
say that that was what they were. I'm used to seeing Dusky Moorhens occupying 
this area, but these seemed slightly different. Through the binoculars, they 
were a similar size to a moorhen; their tails seemed to stand completely 
upright. There were no discernable white markings on the birds, as when they 
scuttled back under the tree, they were a slate-grey colour up top, and maybe a 
ruddish colour? Their legs were reddish, and their beak appeared to be a grey, 
black, with no additional markings on their face. They were feeding as a group 
on the ground, and seemed to move as one unit. They were only out for maybe 5 
minutes before heading back out of view under the tree.

I couldn't locate my camera at home, so I'm presently searching for it, and 
hope that they may appear again. I'm not holding my breath as I have never 
spotted them before.

Could anyone offer some suggestions? I don't want to jump ahead of myself and 
proclaim to be Spotless Crakes, but if someone is familiar with the area and 
could lend a hand, all answers would be more than welcome!

I turned 25 in Dec last year, and have decided to take my birdwatching more 
seriously considering I have a most wonderful backdrop as my backyard and would 
love to know the ins and outs of my wetland lot!

Thanks so much in advance, Catherine Sheedy
New music from the Rogue Traders - listen now!

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