Tag Archives: Twitch

Twitching at Stockyard Point

Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup in Western Port Bay is a good spot for some high tide wader watching. Once the tide rises many of the waders move across from feeding on the exposed low tide mud flats to the sand spits for a bit preening and sleeping. One of the many species found here is the Australian Pied Oystercatcher, a fairly common bird found along the coast. Not so common and in fact not previously reported in Victoria is the (NZ) South Island Pied Oystercatcher. The SIPO is very similar looking to the Aussie version but with shorter legs, longer bill and different white plumage on the back and underwing. In late June a keen eyed birder spotted this NZ vagrant, and since then many birders have taken the long beach walk to the point to twitch for the SIPO.  On the day we trekked to the point, we spent many hours on the spit, met quite a few birders, found the South Island Oystercatcher (lifer 346) and photographed many other waders. In winter one does not expect to see many waders in Victoria but we were amazed at how many different species had over-wintered in the south rather than fly back to Siberia to breed. A few of the experienced birders suggested that it was due to a very good breeding season in the north in 2016 and that 1st year birds tend to over-winter rather than fly back north. It was long day, standing for 6 hours, exposed to bitingly cold southerly winds, at times wet, but it was one of the best days of birding I have seen.

Stockyard Point Twitch, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Stockyard Point Twitch, Jam Jerrup, Vic – a brief sunny respite from the cold and winds

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Hundreds of over-wintering waders at Stockyard Point

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

II

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

III

Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits

Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

II

Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

III

Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

IV

Godwits landing at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Bar-tailed godwits landing on a sand spit at high tide 

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

6 species in this shot: Red-capped plover, Red knot, Curlew sandpiper, Red-necked stint, Terek sandpiper, Double-banded plover.

Oystercatchers_SIPO at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

South Island Pied Oystercatcher (left) and Australian Pied Oystercatcher

Twitching with the twitchers…

A rare bird was reported at the Western Treatment Plant a few months ago, a Red-necked Phalarope. It was quite far away in the middle of a large lagoon but I did get good views through my spotting scope and a few average photographs…and there was plenty of company to share my “lifer” (1st time seeing a new species of bird). A twitcher is someone who hunts out rare and vagrant birds to add ticks to their life lists. They can travel all over Australia and the Territories. While I am generally a birder – will view/study, photograph any bird, I will twitch a good Victorian sighting of a rare bird…like the Lake Tutchewop Long Billed Dowitcher. I can can proudly add the Red-necked Phalarope to my twitch and life lists.

Red Necked Phalarope Twitch

Sneaking up on the Twitchers in their natural element

Red Necked Phalarope Twitch

(psst…the man on the left, David E, was a contributor and reviewer to HANZAB for those that know the Aussie/NZ 7 volume Bird Bible) 

Red Necked Phalarope Twitch

Everyone is delighted to observe the rarity…

Red Necked Phalarope Twitch

Fellow obsessive Twitchers – Dave and Gio

Red Necked Phalarope, WTP

The little white dot is a Red Necked Phalarope

Red Necked Phalarope, WTP

Red Necked Phalarope – a  lonely little bird, a long way from home and lifer 330

Cape Barren Geese, WTP

Large Cape Barren Geese conducting a flyby and stirring up the twitchers…

 

 

Goschen! It was a good day to Twitch…

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, Lake Tutchewop, Vic,

Spotting scopes lined up, Lake Tutchewop, Vic,

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, Goschen

Hooded Robin II, Goschen

Hooded Robin II, Goschen

Singing Honeyeater,

Singing Honeyeater

Singing Honeyeater,

Singing Honeyeater II

Singing Honeyeater,

Singing Honeyeater III

White Browed Woodswallow

White Browed Woodswallow

White Browed Woodswallow

White Browed Woodswallow II

White Browed Woodswallow

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

White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga – parent with a nice sized dragonfly

White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga

White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga

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 Woodswallows, Lake Boga

White Breasted Woodswallow chicks waiting patiently for their next feed.