Thursday, January 3, 2013

New year 2013 at the WTP

New Years need to start with a celebration. They need to start with seeing good friends and interesting birds. I also read somewhere that one should start the year as one intends to continue. To this end Joy and I headed for, where else, Werribee.

My alarm went off at 0530 and I picked up Joy at the very civilised hour of 0700. As we chatted our way down the Geelong Rd we decided to beat our record of 93 birds in one day. We knew it could be done because people often report seeing over 100, we just had never bothered to try too hard.

Surprisingly there were very few people out birding at 0730 on New Year’s Day morning; and the day was just perfect, and getting better as the morning cloud burnt off and the sun lit up the grasslands and ponds. The birds were everywhere and we picked up Fairy Martins and lots more as we drove down to Austin Rd. Once we got through the gate and headed around the long way to the “T” Section ponds we found a flock of Black-tailed Native-hens, a Spotted Harrier sunning in a gap in the tea-trees, a very yellow Golden-headed Cisticola that looked very swish against a background of golden drying grasslands. A pair of Glossy Ibis, Cape Barren Geese and four Brolga completed the list of "special" birds.
Spotted Harrier sunning

Golden-headed Cisticola. The breast really was very yellow, not just from reflected light

Glossy Ibis in full breeding colour
Across the road at the Western Lagoons we met Mel and Sarah and then went on to look for the resident skulkers and lurkers, the crakes and rails. We missed them all and headed next to Kirks Point for the Golden Plover. They were there but the small terns, Fairy and Little, that we usually find at the point were not on the rocks. They must have been out on the bay fishing, and it was a beautiful morning for it.
Pacific Golden Plover on the rocks at Kirk's Point

As it was lunch time and low tide we went in through the Beach Rd gate to the rocks and again saw Mel and Sarah. On the day before (31/12) I had seen Great Knot and Ruddy Turnstone here and we needed them for our 2013 year list and to build our numbers for the day. As we sat down for lunch our count was at 87.

Lunch was our standard New Year’s Day affair. I had bought some mixed nuts and we each had our salads, sandwiches and wraps. As we sat in the sun and watched the resident Broad-billed Sandpiper I eased the cork from a very pleasant sparkling faux-champagne from New Zealand and we relaxed from the strain of the hunt. This is definitely how the year must progress; good friend, good birds and good weather. Sigh. How hard is the life of a birdwatcher (smile).
A very distant Broad-billed Sandpiper. A good bird to go on the year list.

After lunch the hunt was on again. Across the Little River ford the Pectoral Sandpipers eluded us but we found a Marsh Sandpiper. The Bailon’s Crake in the Conservation Pond gave itself up, as did large numbers of Australian Spotted Crakes. The ponds and tracks are covered by unbelievable numbers of Pink-eared Ducks and Shelducks. We also got a glimpse of a Reed Warbler and lots of ducks, including 5 Freckled Ducks on the rocks in Lake Borrie. It was nice to see them back where they belong.
Spotted Crake lurking under bushes along The Spit track

Hardhead with lovely patterns on its feet

Pink-eared Ducks

The afternoon was wearing on so we made for the main gate. On the Paradise Rd lagoon we found a Black-tailed Godwit and waited and waited until it lifted its wing to prove to us it wasn’t a Hudsonian Godwit – birdwatchers always have to remain optimistic. In the pines by the power station we found a Little Eagle and added Common Myna. The day was all but over and as we left the plant our tally was 103 species. We had done it. We were, and are happy. The year is off to a very good start.

A very baby Silver Gull - just to symbolise the New Year

All photos © Jenny Spry

1 comment:

  1. Great shots Jenny - sounds like a fantastic day. I must try and get there soon :-)