Last week I came down with the worst cold ever. I was feeling so bad I couldn’t even go birding on Sunday with my friend Joy. On Sunday night Joy sent me a stunning photo of a Spotted Harrier that she had found at the WTP, where she had gone without me. I was seriously disappointed at having missed a fun day of birding and a great bird.
On Monday morning the weather was sunny and calm so I rationalized that even though I was still suffering from a cold, all hacking coughs and unruly snuffles, I could turn the heat on in the car and be as warm as I would be in the house. I got dressed, made a thermos of tea and headed out. I really needed to see that harrier.
Based on the background in the image Joy had sent me I headed to the Western Lagoons area first. As I was unlocking the gate to go in the Spotted Harrier cruised leisurely over the pond in front of me. It was going to be a good day!
|With the bright yellow cere showing well as the bird banked toward me|
I ended up spending most of the day at the Western Lagoons because the birding there was so good, especially for the raptors. All told I had nine species over the ponds, surrounding paddocks and foreshore. There was the young Spotted Harrier that was working along the spit and at the north end there were at least five Whistling Kites.
|A dorsal view|
A first-year Black Falcon was working down by the entry gate and Swamp Harriers were everywhere. A Black Kite was at the Murtcain outlet as were Brown Falcon and Black-shouldered Kite. The Black Falcon came as a real surprise, both to me and to the Black-winged Stilts I was watching. I was being very quiet but suddenly the stilts all froze and stared in my direction. The next moment they were in the air and as I looked up I could see why. The falcon had appeared low down and was coming fast toward the pond where the stilts had been feeding. The stilts escaped but watching the falcon on a hunting run was a real treat.
|Black Falcon. Not the best photo but it was so fast ....|
|Black Falcon. Note the pale face of the young bird.|
|Black-winged Stilts flushed by the falcon|
A White-breasted Sea-Eagle was resting on driftwood on the spit and finally there was a Nankeen Kestrel on 29 Mile Rd.
I missed the Wedgies, Brown Goshawk and Hobby that I have seen down there earlier this year so I will have to go back. I mean 9 raptors in a day was special but 12 would be astounding. And of course there is sometimes a Peregrine at WTP too, but getting that as well in one day would just be greedy (smile).
|Black Kite being harassed by a very upset Magpie-lark|
|Swamp Harrier. One day I will get a nice photo of one on the ground|
|Black-fronted Dotterel leaving tracks in the glutinous black mud|
|Very shy European Goldfinch, just before they flew|
|Zebra Finch numbers at WTP have exploded over the last few years and they are now seen everywhere|
|This Little Raven just begged to have its photo taken|
|and this White-faced Heron didn't really want to hang around|
|To me this is a Mountain Duck, and always will be.|
|Musk Ducks. First you see them ...|
|.... then you don't|