Sunday, November 8, 2009

Heyfield Birdwatchers - Nov '09

Subtitle: A Few, (very few), Waders At Last

A small group of dedicated ‘birdos’ braved the heat and journeyed east a bit to try yet again for some waders. After car pooling in Stratford, we headed straight for Hollands Landing, on McLennan Straits between Lakes Wellington and Victoria. The nearby Victoria Lagoon has been a successful wader spot on previous occasions, but as we turned the last corner before arriving at our destination, it was evident the water level was probably too high. At the end of the track we could see numerous Swans, a few distant Terns and that was about it.

After moving on a little and checking out the new works at the landing, we opted for a short walk beside the straits where there was a little more swampy marshland to investigate. More Swans, a few Caspian Terns and the odd Pacific Gull were resting in the distance. As we scanned the distant shoreline, someone declared there were some small grey birds hunkering down in the clumps of Beaded Glasswort. Waders at last! A small group, maybe 50, ‘sharpies’, (Sharp-tailed Sandpipers), were well concealed in their surroundings.

These Siberian migrants are always a delight to see.

Back to the cars and around to The Woodpile track for lunch on the shore of Lake Wellington. We picked a shady tree with a view to the west and opened the tuckerboxes to the delightful chorusing of Rufous Whistlers all about.

Mostly we had our attention to the whistlers or our lunch boxes, but Val assures us that she briefly spotted a Dolphin. From time to time there are reports of these marine mammals in the lake system, and research has shown that a small pod of about 50 animals will periodically visit the area. Good one Val, where was your camera?

We were just hopping back into the cars and a White-winged Triller was spotted. This was a very accommodating bird except that although it was just a few metres above us, there always seemed to be a branch, leaf or twig between it and my camera. Nice sighting though Dierdre!

We next called in to a small bit of bush on some private property – permission was obtained. Some debate ensued on the species of a bird sitting on a nest whose tail was about all we could see. Eventually the head and bill became visible to settle the argument – Grey Butcherbird.

On a large dam on the way out, a small group of Royal Spoonbills, Swans, Shellduck and Grebes were spied. The Spoonbills took off and sought refuge in a nearby dead tree.

By now we were hot, tired and thirsty, but Linda persuaded us to check the Stratford Highway Park as we went by. Glad we did. The list here included Sittellas, Eastern Yellow Robins, Mistletoe Birds, Olive-backed Orioles and their fascinating suspended nest, more Rufous Whistlers and a ‘whistling the dog’ Shining Bronze Cuckoo.

By now, the iced coffees at The Peppercorn in Stratford loomed large. Great day, 40+ species and yep, some waders! Thanks folks, let’s do it again in a month.


  1. A nice bird list for the day. 50 Sharpies was excellent! We have never seen that many up here. There used to be quite a group of them at the sewerage ponds but these have recently been 'upgraded' and at present there is no habitat at all for waders - so no birds! I have only seen 4-5 birds max. at roost sites around the bay.

  2. Sounds like an excellent day out. There are quite a few birds there which I would love to see again if I ever get to the mainland.

  3. G'day Mick,
    Yep, a good wader day for us down here lately.
    Hey Mosura, welcome back. Just checked your site again - wow, still got the magic touch I see.

  4. Great report as usual. Lovely photos - that spoonbill one made me smile.

  5. Sounds like a good bird day to me. Enjoy your heat. We got our first snow last night. :)