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- A yellow-tailed Vandal
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- Walking along Elster Creek
- A rare visitor stops by Elster Creek
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- Stranger Danger
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Tag Archives: Royal Spoonbill
Only once before have I seen a Royal Spoonbill roosting at the Elster Creek lake in the golf course. On a recent sunny Winter’s day I walked along the creek doing my rounds and I noticed a large pure white bird taking a nap on a log. It was larger than the local Egret. I spent some time quietly watching the Spoonbill and taking a few shots. The bird stretched, yawned, swapped legs and generally napped. The Spoonbill gave me a good look at the bill and how well it is designed for working in the sand and mud. It uses the bill in the water and down to the sandy bottom (40cm or so) and hunts for shrimp and in freshwater mud it looks for small fish. It uses a side to side motion until something hits the sensitive part and is quickly scooped up. It was the first time I got a good close look at the Royal Spoonbill and they have a remarkable face and bill and the toes impressed me as well. I have not noticed how big and versatile they are. Another bird I can add to the local birds list.
A late afternoon and evening walk around the Dandy Valley wetlands produced a good list of bird species (50+) and a few nice photo opportunities in the evening light. I met up with a birding mate, John, and we hunted for elusive Crakes and Rails. We did finally find two Spotted Crakes in a shaded patch of the reeds. While waiting for John to arrive I explored the Dandenong Creek for a few kilometres and found a good number of smaller birds and bushland species. Overhead the sky continually had birds flying into or around the wetlands: Swamp Harriers, Pelicans, Ibis and various species of Ducks. It is an impressive place that has only recently been created to help purify the creeks before they run into important wetlands at the coast and Port Phillip Bay. Well worth a repeat visit.
Many of the lagoons are drying out and getting shallower which is perfect for the Sandpipers, Crakes and Rails.
I practiced my flight shots with the Ibis and found on processing that there was a Royal Spoonbill in the mix (the bird with the straight bill below)
Hundreds of Ibis flew in over the last 30 mins before dark. They came in large V formations and circled the park looking for appropriate landing areas to roost for the night.
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.
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.