Thursday, 3 March 2016

Wandering Dutchman meets a crake-quake

After the You Yangs it was off to the Western Treatment Plant at Werribee for lunch and a good dose of birds. We stayed until dark getting about 60 species of birds but special highlights included ...
  • The sheer number of duck species and ducks numbering into the thousands. Pacific Black, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Australian Shelduck, Australian Shoveler, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead, Australian Wood Duck, Freckled Duck, Blue-billed Duck and Musk Duck.
  • A Peregrine Falcon seeing off a Swamp Harrier.

Not the best photo ever taken of a Peregrine Falcon but somehow,
for these two pictures, the camera was set to shutter priority at 1/400 sec.
Way too slow for the action.

  • A fabulous flyby close-up of an immature and moulting Brown Falcon.

  • The setting sun throwing beautiful colours on the ponds and paddocks.

Towards sunset, we drove to the Crake Pond, an area where three species of crake had been seen over the last few weeks. We stationed ourselves on the sunset side to the pond with excellent views of the reeds about 30 metres or so away. We spotted a Baillon's Crake [lifetick x 2]. After a little while, we decided to drive around to the other side of the reeds and see what was going on there. Around we went. We parked by the reeds which were much closer than the other side, about 2 metres away! But to the east [the reeds were to the west into the setting sun] was a pond with a heap of birds on it. Swans, White- and Straw-necked Ibis, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints, Common Greenshank [identified by Robert as we approached from their calls -- a common species in The Netherlands] and Marsh Sandpiper, a small version the Common Greenshank with a needle thin beak.

Marsh Sandpiper and Common Greenshank
So we "oo-ed" and "aah-ed" over the birds and open and closed the car door getting the scopes and the bird guides out and generally forgetting about the crakes behind us on the other side of the road. Once finished, we turned around and had a look at the reeds and there was, not one, not two but three species of crake, unconcernedly going about their business within five metres of the car and where we were standing. Australian Spotted Crake, Spotless Crake and Baillon's Crake. Just amazing. Three life ticks for Robert and one for myself. What a day.

Baillon's Crake
Australian Spotted Crake

The Spotless Crake was just a bit too quick and dark for our cameras.

So as darkness enveloped us we set off for Drouin and home having done about 900 kms in the first two days of Robert's stay!

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