It was early June. Melbourne's cold and often miserable winter stretched ahead of me and I confess I was feeling sorry for myself. I had nothing planned until November, when I was scheduled to go to Ashmore Reef. How would I survive until then?
I was still missing some easy birds from my annual list. I wanted Flame Robin, Double-banded Plover and Red-kneed Dotterel. They are all possible at Werribee.
I decided to contact Philip. I'd met him at the Long-billed Dowitcher twitch at Lake Tutchewop in November 2014 and he'd proved to be a great birding companion. "How about a trip to Werribee?" I asked. Not only did Philip say 'yes' quite enthusiastically, he offered to drive. We consulted the weather forecast and selected a sunny day. Unfortunately, it was also a public holiday and it seemed that half of Melbourne's birding community was visiting Werribee that day.
The crowds were attracted by reports of Orange-bellied Parrots and lots of happy birders added them to their lifelists that sunny day. Philip and I did not see the parrots. We were disappointed, but not devastated, as we'd both seen them before on many occasions.
We had a most enjoyable day with lots of good sightings, starting with Banded Lapwing in Beach Road. We had a great view of a Brown Goshawk sitting on a fence post and one Intermediate Egret stood out in one of the lagoons. The crakes performed well, with both spotted and spotless ignoring us and venturing very close. We saw a few Tree Martins amongst the Welcome Swallows, a bird I don't often see at Werribee. We thought we were going to miss out on Brolga, when Philip saw three in the distance at Paradise Road. We did well with duck species, seeing all the usual species except Freckled Duck.
We saw lots of Black-fronted Dotterels and the Banded Stilts seem to have moved in permanently. In fact, we saw more Banded Stilts than their Black-winged cousins.
Note that not only did we dip on Orange-bellied Parrots, we did not see any Little Black Cormorants, Cape Barren Geese or overwintering sandpipers - all birds I had expected to see. Worse, we did not see any Flame Robins, Double-banded Plovers or Red-kneed Dotterels! So I came home without adding anything to my annual list. But I can't complain. It was a great day. With my batteries re-charged, I can now face Melbourne's winter.