A bit cool, decidedly grey but definitely dry: 30 odd birders, sorry, 30-odd birders gathered at Truganina Park in Altona for the June Photography Group outing. Already a Hobby had been photographed (demonstrating that bird photography is a good hobby) and the area around the carpark was alive with birds including singing and New Holland Honeyeaters, Fairy Wrens, Red Wattlebirds and a Flame Robin.
A few teal and black duck were on the small wetland as we headed for Laverton Creek, where there were more substantial numbers of birds. To the left, 3 yellow-billed spoonbills; to the right, 3 royals, all very neat and organised.
A white-faced heron couldn’t make up its mind about where it jolly well wanted to be, giving good opportunities for flight shots.
Dozens of chestnut and Grey Teal and Avocets dotted the water, along with a few swans and pink-ears – the shallow water is great for bottom-feeders. Within minutes the group was spread out along a kilometre of riverbank, hopefully getting some good shots.
Closer to the mouth of the river it broadens out into a sort of lagoon, and here we found hundreds of the two Stilt species and Avocets; the same with both teal. A little egret was quite calm about our approach – that is, until I raised my camera, of course. It was remarkably peaceful, given that the city’s skyscrapers dominate the northeast view only a few kilometres away. Apart from a few dogwalkers and cyclists we had the place to ourselves. With the old Cheatham saltworks, now a wildish wetland, on our starboard bow we had excellent views of Singing Honeyeaters and striated fieldwrens, the latter singing vigorously atop prominent bushes. A very distant kestrel was identified by passing the 7-pixel test through Ian’s giant lens (rumoured to be the one NASA are looking for since Hubble stopped working).
A few more small birds were added to the list on the way back to the cars – Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Red-browed finches, Scarlet and Flame robins – then we adjourned to Apex Park on the other side of the river for lunch. This spot gives a great view of the beach beside the creek mouth, today with both Oystercatcher species and a gullish cluster on the point with silvers and Pacifics and Crested Terns.
The post-prandial expedition took us to Truganina Swamp (not to be confused with Truganina Park, or even Truganina Explosives Depot). This is quite a large area with open water near the road – with the usual clusters of Teal, Coots, Pink-ears and stilts – and reedy sedgy cover on the rest.
Some of the group completed a circumnavigation while others pottered about the nearer regions. It was a good day for raptors: a pair of swamp harriers and a pair of Black-shouldered Kites, a Little Eagle, a kestrel, a whistling kite and a brown falcon attempting to lunch off a recently deceased rabbit but suffering interruptions from aggressive magpies (and nosey photographers). A Great Egret posed in the creek and the reeds buzzed with Cisticolas. A large group of 30 or so magpie larks was in constant movement while a couple of hundred starlings attempted a mini-murmuration.
By 3 PM the light intensity and the temperature were beginning to drop, along with our caffeine levels, so we wandered off down Kookaburra Street to return home – a good day, though, with 70 species identified and many good photo opportunities. Next trip is July 16 to Long Forest, near Melton.