Wednesday, 9 January 2013


In Melbourne's hot summer, when there's a pleasant day, it's best to grab the opportunity immediately and go birding.  This morning looked good, so I ventured to Karkarook Park, planning to add Blue-billed Duck and Common Greenfinch to my annual list.

Karkarook Park is in Heatherton on the corner of Warrigal and South Roads.  It used to be a sand mine and is now part of Melbourne Water's water purification system.  The park is centred on a 15 hectare lake.  There is an unfriendly noisy bird hide, which was open this morning, according to the sign on the gate.  Signage notwithstanding, I couldn't open the gate.  However, it is probably best not to open the noisy gate anyway.  I stood beside the hide and watched Australian Reed-Warblers playing amongst the reeds.  I would not have seen any more from the hide, and I would probably have frightened all the birds within hearing.

The first thing I do at Karkarook is to stand on the little wooden bridge and check out the ducks.  I have seen Blue-billed Ducks from this bridge.  However, not this morning.  I walked on, intending to look for snipe and crakes around the ponds on the Warrigal Road side of the park.  However, I heard a greenfinch calling off to my right and wondered whether to deviate.  A bird in the hand. . .

A greenie distracted me, the greenfinch stopped calling and I continued on to look for my snipe.  I saw several rabbits (I usually see water rats) but no snipe and no crakes.  But I did see my beautiful Blue-billed Duck.  His bill was as blue as Christopher Robin's nanny's dressing gown. 

All the usual waterbirds were present and there were more Common Bronzewings and Black-winged Stilts than I remember seeing at Karkarook on previous visits.

Once I'd ticked my blue-bill, I turned my attention to greenfinch.  I visited their usual haunts.  Sometimes I heard their call, but could not see the bird.  Still, I persevered, and eventually my patience paid off.  I had great views of several greenfinch.  I feel a bit guilty trying so hard to get exotic species on my list, but I do it anyway.  A tick's a tick, if only an annual one.

I walked around the lake and by the time I returned the sun was doing his stuff and it felt much hotter than the forecast 26.  I'd been at the park precisely one hour and seen 35 species including my two target species.  If only every birding trip were so successful.

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