Late last year a sighting report came in for a Long Billed Dowitcher – a bird that usually heads down the American side of the Pacific on Summer migration from Siberia. This one seemed to have mistakenly come down the Australasian Migration Highway. It was the first time one had been seen in Australia let alone so far south and into Victoria. I got up early and with a birding mate made the 3 hour drive for my first real twitch to get a single bird onto my life list – one that may never been seen again in Australia. Within 15 mins of arriving at Lake Tutchewop we found the bird thanks to a line up of spotting scopes and photographers. It was cold and windy and after recent rains the lake’s wide sandy foreshore had turned to sticky slippery mud. I did not take any photos (other than two iPhone shots) but had some nice clear views of the red/brown shorebird via my scope.
Having been very lucky and finding the bird so soon (many other twitchers making the long trip took hours or days to find it and several never saw it all due to it flying around the vast lake at different times of the day) we decided to make the most of the location and head over to Goschen Bushland Reserve, near Swan Hill. Goschen is a small grassy Mallee woodland remnant, site of a planned, partially built but abandoned town with an old hall, tennis courts and facilities – all now derelict. Several hours of exploring the area can produce a good list of mallee birds not generally found further south and some nice pictures.
On the way home we passed through Lake Boga and watched White Breasted Woodswallows feeding their chicks.