Thursday, 5 October 2017

171003-4_Serendip Sanctuary and the Western Treatment Plant

Heather arranged two days away on the plains of western Melbourne towards Geelong.

Day 01
Keith and Veronica, John and Marg and Jack and Ethan met up at Serendip Sanctuary for lunch and an afternoon in the Parks Victoria site. Although Serendip has enclosures to keep the land-dwelling animals contained, almost all of the birds are at liberty to fly away. Their "resident" birds are three emus and a brolga pair (with one chick). We hadn't ventured far before Ethan [with 14yo eyes and ears] spotted some Purple-crowned Lorikeets in a beautiful red flowering gum. Multiple photos were taken. "In" the next enclosure were six Yellow-billed Spoonbills on nests, a solitary Nankeen Night Heron, Red-rumped Parrots and Eurasian Tree Sparrows. We had wandered off the path a bit and a ranger came over to put us back on the straight and narrow but as soon as she discovered we were mild mannered birders, changed her tune prompted, no doubt, by Ethan's observation of the NNH which they don't see there often. It seemed to me that birders have a reputation of being very considerate of species in the environment and she gave us quite a bit of slack! On we went through the various hides [with Magpie Geese and Black-fronted Dotterels very close] then on past the Australian Bustard enclosure (the third contained species and part of a research program) to the lakes and walk to the bird hide. Ethan spotted a Restless Flycatcher in a profusely flowering gum so Jack went over to have a look [it had gone] whilst the others went on to the hide and saw two more Scissors Grinders. Four o'clock came too soon and we had to leave but went to our accomodation at Little River via the Kevin Hoffman Walk at Lara. Tea at the Little River Hotel and an early night were in order. Here are the images from Day 1. These were all taken by Ethan who is a birding marvel with tremendous knowledge and a keen interest to investigate and learn.

Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops

Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Nankeen Night-Heron Nyctiocorax caledonicus

New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis

Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta

Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus

Day 02
Sunrise at 6.54 am and we left the hotel at 7am to drive the few kilometres to the WTP via Beach Road where we stopped for a view of the breeding Banded Lapwings. Only those present over 180cm tall could see the pair through the scope at about 300 metres just over the rise. From there we went on to the Crake Pond in the Western Lagoons where we saw all three crakes: Australian Spotted, Spotless and Baillon's. We watched them for 40 minutes or so and MANY photographs where taken. Ethan has a way with birds and was able to get to within two metres of them just by staying quietly sitting/crouching waiting for them to come to him. From there we went to the Beach Road boat ramp then into the Plant via Gate 4. We stopped at the junction of the inner and coastal tracks and saw waders in the ponds there. Onwards via Lake Borrie, through Gate 8 to the Borrow Pits. No Orange-bellied Parrots but avocet and stilts, sandpipers, dotterels and a tiger snake to accompany morning tea before heading to the bird hide overlooking Port Phillip Bay and the mouth of the Little River but no waders at all and no Dez Hughes. So we took the coastal route back to Gate 4 stopping again at the wader pond where we easily saw Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers. At this point it was lunchtime. Jack and Ethan headed off to Tullamarine for Ethan's flight home to Cairns, Keith and Veronica followed whilst Heather, John and Marg left soon after.

Our intrepid band saw 95 species of birds over the 24 hours, 55 species at Serendip and 68 species at the WTP. It was a great birding event. Many thanks to Heather for organising a successful outing.

Ethan was visiting from Cairns and had not really used his camera, a Canon 1100D, much at all. It was partnered with a 2kg Tamron 150-600 lens and the results are just fantastic. His knowledge and easy manner was much appreciated by the group. He can visit us again anytime. Here are his WTP images with the exception of one contributed by Heather.

Australian Spotted Crake Porzana fluminea

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla
Baillon's Crake pretending to be an Australian Weed Wobbler.

Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis

Black-winged Stilt Himanoptus himanoptus

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis

 Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis

 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata

Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus

Singing Honeyeater Gavicalis virescens

White-fronted Chat Epthianura albatross

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