Laverton Creek Mouth and Truganina Swamp – June 2016

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.

Golden-headed Cisticola - Merrilyn Sarong

Golden-headed Cisticola – Merrilyn Sarong

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.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill - John Bosworth

Yellow-billed Spoonbill – John Bosworth

A white-faced heron couldn’t make up its mind about where it jolly well wanted to be, giving good opportunities for flight shots.

White-faced Heron - John Bosworth

White-faced Heron – John Bosworth

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.

Pink-eared Duck - Phil Marley

Pink-eared Duck – Phil Marley

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).

Black-shouldered Kite - Jill Wilson

Black-shouldered Kite – Jill Wilson

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.

Red-browed Finch - John Van Doorn

Red-browed Finch – John Van Doorn

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.

Magpie and Brown Falcon - Ian Wilson

Magpie and Brown Falcon – Ian Wilson

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.

Great Egret - Peter Bennet

Great Egret – Peter Bennet

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.

Altona list

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