The view of a spectacular sunrise over the city from the top of 100 Steps of Federation Hill was sadly missing today due to the cloudy start. But Truganina Park offered a rich viewing of birds as compensation.
Recent rains had helped fill the wetlands adjacent to the car park, which go by the lovely title of the Notla Estate Main Drain, however only a couple of Pacific Black Ducks, a Hardhead and an Australasian Swamphen were in residence. New Holland Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds were busy competing for aerial supremacy, while some Spotted Pardalotes flitted about colourfully in the neighbouring bush.
On to Laverton Creek and a good selection of birds presented themselves – Black Swans, both Teals, Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes, Red-necked Avocets, Pied Stilts, White-faced Herons and some Royal Spoonbills.
In the scrub along the creek bank, we were serenaded by numerous Striated Fieldwrens that popped up to sing their hearts out. Not to be outdone, Singing Honeyeaters lived up to their name and got in on the act. Little Grassbirds didn’t want to be ignored and they too chipped in, though were too shy to show themselves.
Not so the raptors. Twice a Swamp Harrier flew in from west, to be chased off by a mob of Little Ravens, and a Little Eagle circling high above was also closely tagged. A Collared Sparrowhawk and a Nankeen Kestrel were other good additions to the sightings.
The return to the car park provided encounters with Flame Robins, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Australian Pipits.
The group reconvened for lunch at the home of the Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre in the Under Keepers Quarters, next to the Truganina Explosives Reserve. After the luxury of comfy chairs and fresh tea and coffee, I’m not sure how we’ll cope with returning to our usual lunch arrangements on our next outing.
Over lunch Marilyn Olliff, chair of the Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre, explained their plans for a purpose-built wetlands centre at the HD Graham Reserve. The group has recently received a council grant to develop a feasibility study and business case for the new wetlands, which would be located adjacent to the creek between the current wetlands and the Altona Sports Centre (https://www.facebook.com/hobsonsbaywetlandscentre/ ).
Fortified by lunch, and with the sun breaking through, we ambled across Doug Grant Reserve to the mouth of the Laverton Creek. The Reserve itself offered the find of the day – a female Pink Robin in some open bushes, happy to be photographed at close quarters by lots of people. Clearly it didn’t need all that male macho pink to be a show off.
The Creek at high tide offered its own rewards and was the highlight for the day – flocks of well over a hundred Little Black Cormorants, close to a hundred each of Red-necked Avocets and Pied Stilts, a Little Egret, a dozen Pacific Gulls, more than a dozen Pied Oystercatchers (and one Sooty), many dozens of Pink-eared Ducks, a few hundred Teal, the odd Australasian Shoveler and one Black-tailed Godwit. Oh, and a thousand Silver Gulls (of course).
The eager then motored five minutes up Laverton Creek to Truganina Swamp, which had also benefited from the recent rain. Some stayed near the pond in front of the bird hide, while others did a full circuit of the swamp – all in glorious sunshine. Plenty of birds on the pond, but the only new sightings were Golden-headed Cisticolas, which clearly wanted to be seen and heard in the swamp.
It was a terrific day, with over 70 species seen by our group of 28. Warm thanks to Marilyn Olliff for hosting us for the lunch break at the Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre headquarters and for telling us about their project. And thanks too to Peter for coordinating and shepherding our meandering, straggling, dawdling photographers: it’s a credit to him that everyone gets home from the outing (eventually).