I visited one of my favourite birding sites yesterday – the Western Treatment Plant also known as the Pooh Farm. It is a 200 square kilometer site for the treatment of Melbourne’s waste products. Before the treated water is released into the Bay it moves through large areas of settling ponds and ocean side lagoons. Over the years it has become a major site for Bird species including many migratory birds that spend the Northern Winter in Southern Australia. It has become famous and has actually been named a world RAMSAR Wetlands. It is a great place to drive around and study the various shorebirds as well as the resident birds like the raptors. I made 23 trips there last year and it has become a regular spot for me when the conditions (temp, tide and winds) are right for a day visit – it is a very wind exposed site with limited tall vegetation and no facilities. People drive from hours away and interstate to visit a place that is only 35 mins away for me. A permit and key system is in place and to get full access to the 2 major areas one has to purchase permits and sit an induction process.
And a common question I get when people ask about the site – “What is the smell like?” There is no “off” smell, just the smell from the sea and the vegetation. There are heaps of insects but nothing that bites. It is the insects that help bring in such huge bird numbers.
The Lagoons are adjusted by the Melbourne Water engineers and suit different birds at various times of the year. Each species has a food and water depth requirement. The photo below was taken in Nov and yesterday it was dried out. And yes I have often nearly driven into the water while trying to drive, use binoculars and take photos all at the same time.
If anyone wants to head out to the “farm” let me know….it is a great experience and I look for any excuse to go.
I found 75 species yesterday and attempted to take a few photos while driving the various roads…..