Wending in Warrnambool with the Wandering Werribee Wagtails.

The Werribee Wagtails, (now officially Birdlife Werribee), held their annual ‘camp out’ at Warrnambool this past week.

EE and I decided to attend, and Mr An Onymous and Ms In Cognito also came down.  We took a couple of days earlier just to settle in, and stayed at the Warrnambool Surfside Caravan Park, close to the beach, close to the shops, close to the … you get the idea.

Nothing like at trip down the coast to improve the appetite, and we stopped at Routley’s Bakery in Geelong to top up with one of their selection of fine pies, and a coffee, then about 3 hours later we settled into our accommodation in Warrnambool.  Over a leisurely dinner, we discussed the possibilities and decided that a peek at Whale Watching from the designated watching area would be a good start.  Only one mother and babe in attendance, but quite close in and it was fascinating to watch these huge dark grey bulges, roll back and forth in the swell.  What got me thinking was the huge distances these creatures travel, and how this young one had just begun that adventure.

We stopped at the Hopkins River mouth, and after a walk along the beach had only a few of the  usual suspects in view. We moved to the other side of the river and up on the cliff line and even before we had exited the car, Singing Honeyeaters were there to greet us.  No fear of us humans at all as they sat on the bull-bar of the 4WD next to us, danced on the fence posts, swung on the fence wire, and played bump off games on the signage. Close ups were that easy.

A pair of Black Cormorants dominated the rocky area, and a lone Caspian Tern made runs along the cliff line just above out heads.  Then an Australasian Gannet caught my attention as it swept along the rolling sea line, then out to sea, speed back on the wind, turning over the Hopkins outflow and repeating the performance about ever 5-6 minutes.  Then it rolled over, and plunged headlong into the water.  Emergering after about 30 seconds or more. Then after a preen, it began the run over the waves to get enough speed to become airborne.  Funny to see it running up and over the crest of the wave, and the gliding to the next wave to repeat the running to get speed.

We meandered on down to the Warrnambool Pavillion Cafe Bar, for lunch.What a great spot with excellent views along the beach and over the harbour. We sat in the sun, and enjoyed great service and amazing food. I opted out of the Thai Chicken Pie, but had to look on while In enjoyed the fare.   We did the usual thing over food, told one another amazing impossible stories and sipped coffee and tea. The biggest Pot of Earl Grey I’ve ever seen.  Must have had about 4 tablespoons of tea in the strainer.  You could smell the aroma all over the cafe.

From there our journey took us to the Kilarney Beach Area, and some more Terns, and a few Red-capped Plovers. Then on to  Tower Hill Park.

Highlights were up close and personal with a squadron of Emus, a visit by the most beautiful Spotted Harrier, and a Koala asleep in the carpark tree.

Back along the road home in the late afternoon sunshine we came up a paddock full of Cattle Egrets, with lots in breeding plumage. Guesses at 60-70 were made, but the more we looked the more we saw.  Good way to end a day.

Day two to follow.  Here is how it all looked.

Mum and bub.  Rolling in the swell.
Mum and bub. Rolling in the swell.
My one and only shot of a Sooty Oystercatcher.  I couldn't get over the small gap in the cliff to get any close.
My one and only shot of a Sooty Oystercatcher. I couldn’t get over the small gap in the cliff to get any closer.
"See, I own this carpark"
“See, I own this carpark”
Jump start
Jump start
No, I didn't move the camera, they were sitting in line
No, I didn’t move the camera, they were sitting in line
Portrait session with  a Singing Honeyeater
Portrait session with a Singing Honeyeater
Just me and me mate.
Just me and me mate.
Study in colour combos
Study in colour combos
Black Cormorant with every feather working hard to control landing in the stiff breeze
Black Cormorant with every feather working hard to control landing in the stiff breeze
Dive, dive, dive.  Gannet at impact
Dive, dive, dive. Gannet at impact
With a run, hop, skip, jump, more run... Airborne
With a run, hop, skip, jump, more run… Airborne
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Sitting pretty
Sitting pretty
Up close and personal
Up close and personal
Four Emus tracking across the lake where the water is Emu deep
Four Emus tracking across the lake where the water is Emu deep
Late afternoon sunshine gracing Cattle Egrets
Late afternoon sunshine gracing Cattle Egrets
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3 thoughts on “Wending in Warrnambool with the Wandering Werribee Wagtails.

  1. Wonderful start to your holiday David. Sounds like you had a delightful smorgasbord of tasty delights, and a smorgasbord of birds (and whales) to photograph. All fascinating shots, particularly the one of emus going walkabout in the water. Never knew they did that.

    Cheers,
    Christine

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    1. Hi Christine, I have seen them in water before, but not with such dogged determination as here. It was quite awhile 15-20 mins or more before they safely got into the reeds and then really motored up the steep hill behind. Must have been an important event to get them out like that. They were a bit awkward as they neared the reeds as the mud underneath became deeper and we saw them struggling with each step.
      What amazed me was they knew exactly where the water was just emu deep.
      DJ

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