Lockdowns restricted many activities last year, so our photo group brought plenty of pent-up energy to our first outing of 2022. And the 40 who came to Truganina Park were not disappointed: perfect conditions and lots of birds. Clearly the management has not lost its touch.
Truganina Park has an impressive bird list of around 150 species due to the range of habitats offered. We started off passing through the wetlands formed by the Nolta Estate Main Drain. This small wetland north of the car park provided sightings of a number of duck species as well as New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Superb Fairy-wrens and Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills in the surrounding bush.
The HD Graham Reserve between the wetlands and the Altona Sports Centre to the north is the site of the proposed $16 million Hobsons Bay Wetland Centre. The centre’s construction was endorsed by the Hobsons Bay City Council late in 2021 – BirdLife Australia is a strategic partner. It will be exciting to see this wellbeing and environmental centre secure funding and come to fruition, hopefully for us to visit in 2024.
We then moved east to the Laverton Creek, which we followed down-stream to the foreshore reserve. With the tide still quite high, the creek only presented some Chestnut Teals and occasional Little-pied Cormorant. But overhead a number of raptors gave us something to write home about – a Brown Falcon across the creek, Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk and Little Eagle flying overhead, and, the highlight, a Black-shouldered Kite posing nearby in a tree for all and sundry to take its portrait.
The foreshore offered some White-fronted Chats and Striated Fieldwrens, as well as White-faced Herons, Masked Lapwings and Singing Honeyeaters. Disappointingly none of the usual waders were in attendance due to the state of the tide.
Coming back along the creek, we headed through the stand of gum trees and then along the fence south of the 100 Steps of Federation hill. These locations offered further close encounters with Singing Honeyeaters and two Black-shouldered Kites, as well as good views of Golden-headed Cisticolas, Tree Martins and a Satin Flycatcher. And Common Starlings. Lots of Starlings.
What a great start! After 57 species, it was definitely time for lunch. The shade of trees in Apex Park, at the end of Altona Beach on the other side of the Creek, was the ideal spot.
Suitably refueled, we reconvened at Truganina Swamp, near the Dow Chemicals bird-hide on Bell Avenue. The swamp – 175 hectares of open grassland, reeds, saltbush and sedges north of Queen St – is fed by stormwater runoff and the Laverton Creek and the change of habitat provided a change in birdlife.
A large flock of Common Greenshanks stood perfectly still in the water to ensure we counted them (almost 20). The 40-odd Pied Stilts didn’t confuse the count, but a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a Marsh Sandpiper and a juvenile Black-fronted Dotterel tried to blend in and tested our eyesight and ID skills.
Most of the group crossed the Hoechst bridge and followed the path near the saline drain to Laverton Creek – disturbing half a dozen White-faced Herons, some Black Swans and a few hundred Silver Gulls. Golden-headed Cisticolas flitted between the occasional bush and grasses. A Swamp Harrier and a Nankeen Kestrel flew over, to increase the raptor count to seven.
A few folk ventured north-east from the bird-hide to where the track crosses the swamp between two ponds to reach the railway line on the north side. The ponds offered calls and fleeting views of Spotless Crakes and Australian Reed Warblers amongst the reeds – great additional finds to bring the day’s tally to 68 species.
What a terrific start to 2022. Wonderful sunny conditions, no wind, a great list of birds and some beaut photo opps. Thanks as usual to Peter for coordinating and guiding our large group on the first of what we hope will be a full and uninterrupted program of outings for the year.