Lewin's Rail - Mt St Joseph pond, Altona, Vic

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Subject: Lewin's Rail - Mt St Joseph pond, Altona, Vic
From: "Peter Shute" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 10:49:13 +1000
This morning at about 8am I spotted my first Lewin's since the Easter
rain filled the pond up a couple of weeks ago.

I snuck up to the northern platform and initially saw nothing.  Then I
put my head right against the right hand slit in the shadecloth and
looked down and saw a Lewin's on the right hand bank, a couple of metres
from the platform.

It seemed to see me, but just moved slowly into the long grass.  I could
see it forcing its way through the grass for a couple of metres, then it
flew to the left bank and worked its way along in full view till it

I moved to the southern platform, but saw nothing but Little Grassbirds,
Purple Swamphens and Dusky Moorhens.  I heard a Lewin's call a few times
but couldn't be sure if it was coming from directly below the platform
or from opposite.  Either way, it seems there are still at least two
Lewin's Rails in there.

The water level is at 1.16m, still 3cm to go before any mud will start
showing.  The birds might be seen wading along the edge opposite the
southern platform now, but I suspect the northern platform is the best
bet, given that the shadecloth seems to have increased the ease and
frequency of sightings there.

The recent complete drying out of the pond seems like it will result in
drastic changes in some parts of it.  A lot of reeds sprouted right
across a lot of the east end just before it filled up again, and these
are now protruding from the water and growing fast.  I assume that they
are more phragmites and that they will just keep growing until they
obscure our view of that end completely.  Given that the east end always
dries out first, these new reeds might result in better, closer viewing
when it does. And some nice habitat when it doesn't.

Interesting recent sightings nearby:
- Little Eagles overhead
- Juvenile Pacific Gull heading south
- Brown Goshawk(?) perched on rocks north west of the pond
- Pigeon I reported as a possible bronzewing last week now confirmed as
a bronzewing but I still haven't been able to tell if it's a Brush
Bronzewing or not.  It's been seen several times on the path on the
north side of the pond around 5pm EST, which I can't manage now that
daylight saving has finished.

Location:  Melway ref 54 C10, behind Mt St Joseph Girls' College in
Altona, north of the railway line. Closest parking to the northern
platform (200m) is at the corner of Galvin St and Civic Pde. Truganina
Swamp is on the other side of the railway line to the pond.

Peter Shute

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