This month we visited the Melbourne Treatment Plant at Werribee, to catch up with the return of the Summer waders.

Early on we were really interested to see masses of mud-bottle nests, made by Fairy Martins, under the eaves of one of the few buildings. We were also most surprised to see a number of them occupied by House Sparrows.

Fairy Martins’ nests .. find the Sparrow
Fairy Martins’ nests .. find the Sparrow

We saw a number of raptors, some quite close up, but not a great variety or number of water birds, apart from several hundred Chestnut Teal… and no waders.

Chestnut Teal
Chestnut Teal

Brown Falcon
Brown Falcon

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite

Raptor

We had morning tea and lunch in locations that were unusually quiet, but then another birdwatcher told us about a great spot for waders, which we had bypassed. So, finally, scores of waders, mainly Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers. However also, thanks to the eagle eye of Lynne Bunning, a rare vagrant Red-necked Phalarope, a first for all of us…called in birding circles ‘a Lifer’.

ed-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope, third from the left, with Red-necked Stints. All are in non-breeding plumage so don’t have red necks

We met a keen, and very young, birdwatcher there who had been looking for it for much of the day and missed it!

We also saw three Common Terns which are nor common here. 

Common Tern
A Silver Gull and two Common Terns

As we were leaving we were farewelled by a couple of the very striking Pied Oystercatchers.

 

Pied Oyster Catcher
Pied Oyster Catcher

 

We all went home very happy.

Below are all the birds identified:

  1. Cape Barren Goose
  2. Black Swan
  3. Australian Shelduck
  4. Pacific Black Duck
  5. Chestnut Teal
  6. Musk Duck
  7. Great Cormorant
  8. Little Black Cormorant
  9. Australian Pelican
  10. White-faced Heron
  11. Australian Ibis
  12. Straw-necked Ibis
  13. Wedge-tailed Eagle
  14. Swamp Harrier
  15. Black Kite
  16. Whistling Kite
  17. Australasian Swamphen
  18. Pied Oystercatcher
  19. Masked Lapwing
  20. Curlew Sandpiper
  21. Red-necked Stint
  22. Red-necked Phalarope
  23. Common Tern
  24. Great Crested Tern
  25. Crested Pigeon
  26. Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo
  27. Brown Falcon
  28. Galah
  29. Superb Fairywren
  30. Red Wattlebird
  31. White-plumed Honeyeater
  32. White-fronted Chat
  33. Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  34. Australian Magpie
  35. Willie-wagtail
  36. Magpie-lark
  37. Little Raven
  38. Eurasian Skylark
  39. Welcome Swallow
  40. Fairy Martin
  41. Australian Reed-Warbler
  42. Golden-headed Cisticola
  43. European Starling
  44. Common Myna
  45. Australasian Pipit
  46. European Goldfinch
  47. House Sparrow
  48. Zebra Finch

Next month the bird walk is a combined flora and fauna ramble before the Christmas barbecue. In January, I plan to lead a walk "somewhere". Please contact me directly if you wish to come.

There are a few unusual Rainbow Lorikeets which appear to be resident in Aireys inlet. They have one or more yellow feather, or bits of yellow in their tail feathers.

King Parrot
King Parrot with yellow feather

The explanation is as follows by Tania Ireton from Birdlife Bayside:
For most birds, the green in the feathers is due to a combination of yellow feathers with a structure in the feather that reflects blue light, leading to the perception of green. If the structure that reflects blue is removed then the feather(s) will appear yellow. If the yellow pigment is removed and the structure retained then the feather(s) will appear blue. If both the pigment and structure is removed then the feather(s) will appear yellow. This is seen most readily in captive-bred budgerigars which are normally green and yellow. The feature you describe could be passed on to offspring.

In late October, at Allen Noble Sanctuary, I heard the delightful, “oft repeated, silvery ‘falling-leaf’ call” (as described by Graeme Pizzey in Birds of Australia), of a White-throated Gerygone. I followed the call around the sanctuary, but the elusive bird could only be heard. I have never heard or seen one in our area before. 

Ellinor Campbell (including all photos with the exception of the King Parrot which was taken by Greg Walsh)

Events Calendar

Sep
21

Thu 9:00am - 12:00pm

Sep
24

Sun 9:30am - 11:00am

Sep
25

Mon 9:30am - 11:00am

Sep
25

Mon 11:00am - 1:00pm

Weed of the month

Bushy Yate

Bushy Yate

Bushy Yate, Eucalyptus lehmannii, is an evergreen densely rounded tree to 8m with spread of 3m. It is endemic to the south coast of Western Australia but has naturalised into the Surf Coast cliffs, coastal areas and bushland where it seeds prolifically. The orange flower pods form clusters like fingers extending from a hand and the horned seed capsules are fused at the base in clusters of five to eight.

More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.

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