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: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 12:18:08 +1000
A brief sighting of a Lewin's from the northern platform Saturday
evening, and a very long sighting from the southern platform about
7.30am on Sunday morning.

Water level was still about 1.15m so no mud showing yet, and it's
dropping very slowly.  I just happened to spot it in the vegetation to
the left of the reed directly opposite the platform with my binoculars.
I definitely wouldn't have seen it with just my eyes as it was chest
deep in vegetation and attempting to get behind anything it could as it
worked its way to the right.  I had it in view for several minutes,
although at times all I could see was the grass moving.

I recently reported new reeds growing at the eastern end that may
eventually obscure our view there.  I've noticed them directly opposite
the southern platform now, so the prime viewing area might become
obscured too.

Other interesting sightings nearby:
- Spotless Crake, northern platform, 7.45am Sunday.
- Spiney-cheeked Honeyeater, in tree beside southern platform, 7.30am
Sunday.  Never seen one here before.
- Little Raven flying with a formation of Aust. White Ibis, harassing

I also just heard about this article from The Age about the pond.  It's
from Easter Monday, so a lot of others might have missed it too:

Peter Shute

 wrote on Thursday, 10 April 2008 10:49

> 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 disappeared.
> 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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