Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The sun was shining and the birds were singing as I set off for Banyule, in search of a Latham's Snipe, which I needed for my annual list.  Banyule is about 13 kilometres from central Melbourne and it takes me about forty minutes to drive there.
Banyule Flats Reserve

I went directly to the swamp, where I often see snipe in summer.  No luck today.  There were no muddy edges, no snipe, no crakes, no rails, not even a Black-winged Stilt.  However, there were Spotted Pardalotes calling and lots of water fowl on the water.  Grey Fantails darted around and Grey Butcherbirds sang merrily, mocking my lack of snipe.

I walked to the river and was surprised at the lack of Bell Miners.  There has been a colony of Bell Miners here for as long as I've been coming here, and I know precisely when my visits to Banyule began.  It was in November 2001 when a female Australian Painted Snipe turned up.  Melbourne birders all flocked to Banyule, and most were rewarded with excellent sightings of a very beautiful bird.

There was nothing as exciting as snipe today, Latham's or Painted or anything else.  I did hear my first Rufous Whistler for the season and my first Olive-backed Oriole.  I had a very pleasant walk, clocked up 36 species without trying, and went home lamenting my lack of snipe.  My mood changed immediately when I learnt that a Franklin's Gull had been seen at Paynesville.  There was no question of whether I would go to Paynesville, it was a question of when I could set off.  As I write, I am packed and plan to go in the morning.  I have good vibes about this Franklin's Gull.

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