Monday, 24 October 2011

Great weather for ducks

The weather turned cold, wet and windy today but I couldn't resist a late afternoon look for the Freckled Ducks that had been reported at Lake Lorne in Drysdale (see map). At 5:15PM it was 11°C, raining and windy but there were ducks galore including (at least) 15 Freckled Duck.

Freckled Duck, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

Also seen were Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Duck, Blue-billed Duck and a single Australasian Shoveler (eclipse male, I think, based on the buff coloured patch behind the bill). Terrible photo but in the conditions and with the bird more than 100 metres away I was happy to record my first sighting of this species here.

Australasian Shoveler, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

There are lots of Hoary-headed Grebes on the lake and some cooperated by staying close enough to the bank to be photographed

Hoary-headed Grebe, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

One good thing about the low light conditions is the serendipitous abstract art shots of birds in flight

Superb Fairy-wren, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Waders and Waterfowl at the Western Treatment Plant

I spent the afternoon at the Western Treatment Plant. The waders are back in force and waterfowl are more numerous and active than I can remember.

I was lucky enough to get to the Bird Hide as the tide was just going out. There were hundreds of birds on the mudflats at the mouth of Little River. Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper were the most common

Waders, Western Treatment Plant

but there were also Australian Shelduck, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Silver Gull, Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eastern Great Egret, Little Egret and Common Tern.

Next stop was the Conservation Ponds. On the way there I spotted a pair of Brown Falcons so stopped to see if I could get close enough for a decent photograph from the car. As I put the camera out the window, they both flew away but, unusually, one flew towards me and I managed to catch it in flight just as it went past.

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant

It landed in a tree a few hundred metres along the road so I drove slowly towards it and it stayed in the tree very cooperatively - love the 4-wheel hide :-)

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant

Highlight at the Conservation Ponds was the flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers feeding close to the bank.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Western Treatment Plant

A quick stop at the Borrow Pits to see if I could find and photograph the Banded Stilts that had been reported there earlier this week. Found them but too far away for any decent photographs. There was, however, a small flock of Black-tailed Native-hens running around (in their usual fashion) on the mud islands just near the 270S car park.

Black-tailed Native-hen, Western Treatment Plant

Last stop was the T-Section Lagoon 4 to try and find the Spotless Crake that had so far eluded me (see Crake Hunt Part 1 and Part 3). This is an amazing location for waterfowl, with 8 species of Rallids seen in 30 minutes: Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Black-tailed Native-hen, Buff-banded Rail, Australian Spotted Crake, Baillon's Crake and (at last) Spotless Crake! Only Lewin's Rail was missing (from SE Australian Rallid species) but was reported as seen at the WTP today by others.

Spotless Crake, Western Treatment Plant

I was also treated to a Whiskered Tern, in full breeding plumage, standing on a rock in perfect portrait pose (albeit a bit far away for a great shot but happy to record this bird that is mostly seen airborne).

Whiskered Tern, Western Treatment Plant

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

White-necked Heron

My wife rang me on her way home this evening after she spotted a White-necked Heron feeding in the swamp on Lake Connewarre Game Reserve along Barwon Heads Road (see map). 15 minutes later we found it again. It was almost sunset with grey clouds in the west darkening the sky even further. The heron was feeding in open marsh with no photographic cover so this was the best I could do but it's my first time photographing this species (and only the second time I've seen it) on the Bellarine Peninsula so I'm happy with the record shot.

White-necked Heron, Lake Connewarre

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Spring has sprung at Lake Lorne

A quick visit to Lake Lorne in Drysdale this afternoon was rewarded with 23 species in 20 minutes: Silver Gull, Hoary-headed Grebe, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Eastern Great Egret, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Duck, Hardhead, Blue-billed Duck, Noisy Miner, Eastern Rosella, Red Wattlebird, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Masked Lapwing, Common Starling, Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark, Black-shouldered Kite.

The highlights were:

a family of Black Swans feeding near the edge of the lake

Black Swan, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

two Blue-billed Ducks in a territorial dispute over the middle of the lake

Blue-billed Duck, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

and two Hardheads, close enough to the lake edge to get a half reasonable photograph (they are normally further away near the central island)

Hardhead, Lake Lorne, Drysdale

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