Sunday in Melbourne was overcast and the forecast was not all that enticing
but I was suffering from cabin fever and had to get out of the house. The
easiest option was the WTP; I could have a nice winter day with a thermos of
tea and some jazz CDs as I cruised around the ponds with the heater on.
First stop was the Western Lagoons and “T” section ponds, both of which were
desolate and windblown. Not a bird in sight and I couldn’t blame them. On to
Kirks point next to find that the tide was so far out the rocks stretched
out forever. On the outer edge of the reef a few Little Pied Cormorants sat
in a line looking like the remnants of the crowd at a rained out sporting
When I got back to the gate into the WTP a car was coming out and the lovely
people held the gate open for me. The best they could offer about birds was
“a Lewins Rail seen yesterday at the hide and some Avocet today at the
Borrow Pits”. As it was getting close to lunchtime I headed to the Borrow
Pits and the Avocets were waiting, about 90 of them. Normally birds like
these take flight the moment you step out of the car. Maybe these ones had
just arrived after a long flight because they allowed to me to walk up until
I could have poked them, if I had had one of those 40 foot long pole things
that is. I took a heap of nice photos and then backed away leaving them
where I found them.
I even had a few moments of sunshine to go with lunch as the high clouds
thinned between weather fronts. Even the wind wasn’t too bad once there was
a bit of shelter around.
Out on the bay, close to the shore and out of the wind, were flocks of teal,
mainly Grey, that must have run to 300 or 400 in each raft and I saw three
different rafts. All the other regular ducks were there, scattered across
the ponds but still in small numbers. A few swans still haven’t realised
that it is winter and have started tending nests and a Horsfield’s
Bronze-Cuckoo was calling at the Borrow Pits. Back at Paradise Road Lagoon
there was a second flock of over 100 Avocet.
The last breeding season has been good for the raptors too and Swamp
Harriers, Brown Falcon and Whistling Kites were littered across the plant.
The House Sparrows have done well too it seems because as I was leaving I
came across a flock of more than 500. They were in bushes and trees beside
the road and noise as they settled down to roost was amazing. I suppose it
was like it once was in England, just a cacophony of chirps and cheeps from
small fluttering brown bodies. It was almost a pleasant sight, ruined only
by knowing that they are not a native species.
Last time I was at the WTP the weather was similarly drab and I met a car
leaving as I arrived. “The birding’s terrible”, they informed me. “We’re out
of here. There is nothing here, we’re going home where it’s warm”. I thought
of them yesterday as I enjoyed the complete abundance of common birds. I
can’t agree with their sentiments; every day is good for birding, even when
the uncommon birds aren’t around.
I will put some photos on the BOCA site tomorrow.
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