One of the stranger looking birds we have in our local area lists is the Black-winged Stilt. More normally found on open shallow wetlands it was a bit unusual to hear about a pair spending the winter at the Albert Park Lake (where Melbourne’s F1 street race is held). My birding mate Dave had mentioned how good the Lake was for birding and it wasn’t until recently that I actually visited with him for the first time to find and photograph birds. The Stilt is a delicate medium sized mostly white bird with long legs and black wings. The Stilt feeds using its long sensitive bill, in shallow water mostly plucking small insects on the surface of the water.
Picking up this pair was a nice addition to my local birds list.
Black Winged Stilt, Albert Park Lake, Victoria
I had not noticed the Stilts red eyes until I processed these images…
Makes the Silver Gull look short and dumpy
Black Winged Stilts resting after a feeding session…
Wearing his nice little mohawk hoodie…
Jawbone Reserve is an easy to reach Marine and Park reserve along the shoreline of Williamstown. It has many water and heathland birds and a good list of 50+ species can be gathered in a few hours. Some of the bird visitors are seasonal but most are there all year round. It is an excellent site for beginners (birders and photographers) as the birds are generally used to the passing traffic and will ignore anyone on the paths. If you walk along the edge and stop and use a camera or binoculars they can get a bit edgy and some species will fly off or move away. Careful observations (and quiet calm movement) will result in rewarding sightings and photos. At low tide the outer lagoon drops right down exposing sand and mud bars and thousands of waders can cover the area. A birding scope is needed to get clearer views further out.
Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic – looking west towards Altona
Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic – looking out into the Bay across the lagoons and tidal flats.
Sharp tailed Sandpiper
3 Shags on a Rock – Little Black, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants
Mid Day Siesta – Swans, Stilts & Cormorant
Blue Billed Duck – one of only a few true diving ducks amongst Australian duck species.
Blue Billed Ducks – male with Blue Bill and the female. The female Blue Billed can often be mistaken for the rarer and endangered Freckled duck.
Great Crested Grebe
Black Winged Stilts – well named. In the strong wind they did have a little difficulty in maintaining their balance. When scared or flying they make a sound like a small barking dog.
During high tide at Jawbone many of the water birds move onto the sheltered lagoons including hundreds of Swans. When I visited this last week, there were a number of swans with neck tags. Previously I have researched what the tagging meant. If you see a swan you can go to the http://www.myswan.org.au site and log the bird. It is part of a study and research program. Once you log the swan via its tag you can get a bit of a history of it and where it has been. I once asked a researcher about the tag as I thought it might be a bit cruel but was advised that it does not bother the swan and is actually quite loose. The swan’s neck is quite thin and half of it’s width is actually feathers so the tag fits well. I logged the swans below.
Black Swan P45
Black Swan S75
Black Swan R47
Black Swan R45
Black Swan F09
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Black Swan, Black Swan Tagging, Black Winged Stilt, Blue Billed Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Nature Photography, Pied Cormorant, Royal Spoonbill, Sharp Tailed Sandpiper, Victoria