|Avocets at Werribee, You Yangs in the background|
Rog and I decided to spend Christmas Day at the Werribee Sewage Farm. The weather was warm, there were no crowds, the birds were prolific: a perfect Christmas Day!
We arrived at 9.30, and left at 2.00, having seen 71 species. The highlight was probably a Cox's Sandpiper, which was in T Section Lagoon Pond 4, along with some Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.
We saw some Dusky Woodswallows as we drove down Pt Wilson Road to the Murtcaim Wildlife Area, hoping for Brolga. This area was very dry and there was no hint of Brolga. Next stop was the T Section Lagoons, where we admired Baillon's and Australian Spotted Crakes walking happily amongst the reeds. There are always Australasian Grebes around here, and today there were thousands of Whiskered Terns. Of course we saw and heard Golden-headed Cisticolas and saw hundreds of Australian Shelducks. In fact we had ten species of ducks during the day. Just one pair of Cape Barren Geese stood at the water's edge, not doing anything much, as sandpipers and stints played on the mud.
From T Section Lagoons, we drove to Western Lagoons, hoping for a Lewin's Rail, which had been seen here with some cute black fluffy chicks a fortnight ago. We dipped on the rail, but we saw a Curlew Sandpiper in full breeding beauty, which was some compensation. There were thousands of waders here, mainly Red-necked Stints, but also plenty of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and a few very handsome Red-kneed Dotterels as well as a small covey of Common Greenshanks. A couple of Black-winged Stilts stood with the greenshanks, the stilts' bright pink legs confused with the greenshanks dull green legs, making me reach for my binoculars to confirm that I didn't have a redshank amongst the throng. Of course it would have been too good to be true.
We saw three other cars during the course of the day. We said 'Merry Christmas' to a couple at the Western Lagoons, and they said that they'd flushed a Brolga by the gate. It had flown back to the T Section. So, as we left the Western Lagoons, we scanned the T Section and sure enough, two regal Brolga stood beside our lazy Cape Barren Geese.
Then we drove down Beach Road to the boat ramp, adding a few cormorants to our growing list. We decided against the rough road to Kirk Point, knowing that we were foregoing the possibility of Pacific Golden Plover. Instead we drove along the coast road and down to the bird hide. Everywhere we looked there were hundreds of waders.
There were several Great Crested Grebe in the river as we drove to Paradise Road, but there was little to see at Paradise. In fact, I don't remember ever seeing so few birds there. Then it was on to the Borrow Pits for a bottle of bubbly and lunch. We were surprised and delighted to see that a couple of seats had been installed for our comfort.
We ate our sandwiches watching terns, dotterels, avocets and stilts, while Silvereyes sang from above. Did anyone ever have a better Christmas feast than this?