Saturday, April 19, 2014

Western Treatment Plant 16/04/2014

A fine day was forecast so another opportunity to explore a small portion of the Western Treatment Plant at Werribee was quickly taken up. With my new location in West Gippsland, the trip to ‘the other side of the city’ is a mere 90 minute drive – sans peakhour! This time it took two and a half hours to get there after experiencing the parking lot laughingly referred to as the Monash Freeway. Earlier departure next time!

I was intent on slowly exploring just a small portion of the ponds and chose probably the easiest and smallest section to begin with – T Section Lagoon and Western Lagoon. I registered my trip with Melbourne Water and after a brief diversion to catch up with some Zebra Finches, I headed for the first gate.

The first pond to the right was loaded with bird life – Black Swans, Hoary-headed Grebes, various ducks and the like, but I had difficulty getting clear views looking into a brightly lit background and my little camera always struggles with difficult light conditions.

Just on a little further and with the light behind me, a small mob of Black-winged Stilts provided some nice views for a time. They always look so ‘dressed up’ in their black and white livery.

On a nearby pond a small flock of Curlew Sandpipers was working the shallows. These common long distance fliers should be about to head back, (to Siberia?), unless they have decided to overwinter here. I was interested to see that these waders are not averse to putting their heads below the surface of the water to reach their favourite marine invertebrate in the mud below.

After a brief late snack for lunch I moved a little further east on to Western Lagoon. Australasian Shovelers, Shelducks, Teal etc were all present here along with Spoonbills and more waders I wasn’t yet ready to identify and it was getting close to time to head home.

As I scanned the far shoreline I caught a glimpse of a pair of Brolgas. They were feeding as they slowly walked along, too far for a decent picture. Just as I got back into the ute, they took off and with their long legs trailing flew to a nearby lagoon that offered a better chance for me to get a little closer. Oh well, what the heck if I have to face that crawl on the freeway again.

Finally I headed out into the traffic and turned my head for home. Surprisingly I must have missed the peak - it only took an hour and a half this time.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Parson's Bands

The common and tiny Parson’s Bands Orchid is one of the first terrestrial orchids to appear in Autumn/Winter.

I got a ‘heads up’ on their appearance in some bush near Labertouche recently and I didn’t need my arm twisted to try and find the location – an old quarry site, (thanks Shirley).

I have ticked this little orchid before, but I don’t recall seeing it in good numbers at one site as was the case this time. In one patch there were at least twenty individual plants.

To top off a good mornings work I managed to have a couple of favourite bush birds visit while I was grovelling on the ground, an Eastern Spinebill …

… and a Scarlet Robin.

Luckily there were sufficient periods of sunshine between the clouds and showers to get some satisfactory shots.

And from where does Eriochilus cucullatus get its common name? You might like to explore this link.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rose Robin

With summer days just about on their last legs – surely – I took advantage of a warmish forecast and dropped into Nangara Reserve at Jindivick once more. Why not? It’s close to home and I seem to tick something new every other visit! I have to get out more.

Things were pretty quiet. I wasn’t in the mood for serious stalking anyway so I made my way to a favourite seat and drank in the solitude of the bush. After a short time I started tuning in to various happenings – the last of the dragonfly’s for the season snatching an insect on the wing then alighting nearby to devour it, blue wrens snapping up prey on the track, Lewin’s Honeyeater machine gun call in the distance, a Crimson Rosella eyeing me from a low branch on the side of the track….

Fully sated I ambled back to the ute at the gate and as often is the case this is where all the action started. Eastern Yellow Robins galore. I tried and tried to get one to perch on the ‘Nangara Reserve’ sign long enough for a photograph – no joy. More wrens, thornbills, etc, then in flew a couple of Rose Robins.

 I was lucky to have them drop down into some lower trees and shrubs as they more frequently inhabit the upper canopy. I’m not sure why they were here. Supposedly all Victorian birds go north at this time. Perhaps they are on their way – the Rufous Fantails have departed and I haven’t spotted the Black-faced Monarch again. Or, perhaps they have come down from the higher ranges to over-winter on the lower country. Whatever, I enjoyed their presence. Didn’t really do them justice with the camera but I don’t think they will mind.