On the first visit to Lake Tutchewop on my two day trip into Northern Victoria, we failed to find the Orange Chats but we did find quite a few shore birds along the drying beach and mudflats. Watching them with keen eyes from the nearest higher vantage points were a pair of Brown Falcons.
Brown Falcon, Lake Tutchewop, Kerang, Vic
A friend and I took off early one morning after Christmas for a 2 day birding trip north to look for several lifers and to stock up on a few species not seen this year. At Lake Tutchewop, the site of an 2015 twitch for the Long Billed Dowitcher, we were looking for Orange and Scarlet Chats as well as White winged Fairy-Wrens in summer breeding plumage. It is a fairly barren place, hot, dry and windy in summer and cold, wet, windy and very muddy in winter. We actually visited twice over the 2 days, once on the way up and a return visit on the way home. It was on the second trip that we found the Orange Chats. A small, timid, bright orange bird feeding on insects and seeds amongst the low saltbushes along several tracks and fence-lines. I saw at first dozens of White-fronted Chats and slowly walked through the feeding birds trying to get closer – the White Chats have a decent flush zone and getting a nice clear photo is hard. While standing still for a while to trying pretend I was just a tree and not a threat to them, a bright orange bird popped into view. Trying to stay calm and not prematurely start my victory dance I signalled for John, back near the cars, to come over and share in the view. We stayed an hour and saw many Chats – there must have been at least 30 Orange Chats and many more White-fronted. While the closest photos taken were shooting into the sun, by walking slowly and keeping low I managed to get a few decent shots and quite a few observations. The Orange Chat took my Aussie Lifers to 349 and my Vic Ticks to 347.
Orange Chat, Lake Tutchewop, Kerang, Vic
Lake Tutchewop, Kerang, Vic,
White Fronted Chat, Lake Tutchewop
Orange Chat, Lake Tutchewop
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Kerang, Lake Tutchewop, Lifer, Lifer 349, Nature Photography, Orange Chat, Photography, Victoria, White Fronted Chat
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.
Spotting scopes lined up, Lake Tutchewop, Vic,
Lake Tutchewop, Vic – to get close up images several keen photographers crawled forward of the main group and stayed low in the mud to make sure they did not spook the Dowitcher and the other waders in the water.
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.
Hooded Robin, Goschen
Hooded Robin II, Goschen
Singing Honeyeater II
Singing Honeyeater III
White Browed Woodswallow
White Browed Woodswallow II
White Browed Woodswallow III
On the way home we passed through Lake Boga and watched White Breasted Woodswallows feeding their chicks.
White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga – parent with a nice sized dragonfly
White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga
White Breasted Woodswallows: just like real estate – it is all about position – the chick in the middle kept missing out….bad position.
White Breasted Woodswallow chicks waiting patiently for their next feed.
Posted in Birds, Victoria, Victorian Reserves
Tagged Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Goschen Bushland Reserve, Hooded Robin, Lake Boga, Lake Tutchewop, Long Billed Dowitcher, Nature Photography, Singing Honeyeater, Twitch, White Breasted Woodswallow, White-Browed Woodswallow