Strolling: Birding on the Move

Tis a well known fact that mostly I am allergic to photographing birds as part of a long walking exercise programme. To me, its two distinct activities and the thought of knocking up 15 kms and seeing the occassional bird, way, way over there, is enough to make me stay at home.

Tis also a well known fact, and long term readers will be well aware that an area in the Werribee River Park just a few minutes drive from home has been called, “The Office”, as in “just another day at”. Over the past 10 years we’ve spent countless hours in the area and tis fair to say that at one stage we probably had a close relationship with the majority of the birds in the area.

But, and there in is the rub. But. Recent rains have made things much more complex for us.
The Werribee River ran to flood level and huge volumes of water rushed down the narrow channel, and of course gained speed and force as they went. So much so that a footbridge over the river has suffered ‘irreparable damage’. So Parks Vic, to protect the unsuspecting public, and those that would ignore signs suggesting it was unsafe, have now for everyone’s safety closed the area “Until Further Notice”.
One of the pylons holding the bridge has been eroded and needs a complete replacement. Sadly there is no budget money for that in the ‘foreseeable future’, so the area will be out of bounds for your average Sacred Kingfisher aficionado. (You can guess EE’s disappointment.)

Couple that with the need to install on the far side of the river a new pipeline to feed the Werribee Open Range Zoo, and that access road is also now heavily chain-wired, with a similar sign that says, in its meaning, No Access to Kingfishers Here!
I just hope the birds can’t read.

With two of our preferred birding spots now off limits, we are in the market, so to speak, for a new location. So a couple of days ago we took a walk along part of the track running alongside the Werribee River as it cuts through suburbia. Well actually the River has always been there and Suburbia has encrouched up to the edges of the river.

So we didn’t expect any exotic or unusual birds, but thought the walk would give us the option of exploring some locations that might prove worthwhile. And as Ashley over on “Aussiebirder” points out Forest Therapy is about taking the time to appreciate the simple, and common around us.

What surprised us was the height that the water had come up to in the recent floods. Trees festooned with plastic bags and other disposable disposed rubbish certainly drew a line. Including a rather large log that was jammed 5-6 metres above water level.

We did find the usual suspects and a few extras which did make the day worthwhile. And we have a couple of places that might yield us some good opportunities in the future.
Sore of feet and a little exhausted, we headed for home and lunch.

Red Wattlebird. One of a number still feeding noisy young
Can’t seem to go anywhere without a clan of Rainbow Lorikeets turning up to put on a show.
This White-faced Heron was looking surprisingly hunched up.
There was much discussion between the pair of Red-rumps. But as she wasn’t interested in moving away from the nest hole, I guessed there were young inside.
EE’s Spot of the Day. “Way down there on the Tree”
Helpful when we are in a forest of trees that goes a long way way down there.
Figured out eventually from a pair of helpful Willie Wagtails that were waiting for the Collared Sparrowhawk to move on.
It did, and in a few minutes flew past taking someone home for dinner
How strong are those pincers? The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo just sliced the tough seeds apart like scones. Want to see a Cockatoo rearranging the windowboxes on flats in the Melbourne CBD? See this ABC Article.
We spotted this young Grey Shrike-thrush begging for food in someone’s garden. Had to shoot through the railing because of space limitations.
Mum arrived with a big fat worm, but was immediately harassed by a squadron of White-plumed Honeyeaters, so…
It flew to another branch and enjoyed the meal itself.
Another great find. A Wagtail family. These young are a week or more out of the nest. The harassed parents are looking after four young from the clutch, so Wagtailville is very busy and noisy.

8 thoughts on “Strolling: Birding on the Move

  1. Some lovely pics David, and yes great spotting by EE that Sparrowhawk is an impressive find. It obviously has plenty of food around at this time while babies are hatching. Loved the video of the Crazy Cockie. I wonder who the injured would sue for damages? You did well for your walk David, and I love the Wagtail capture of the family. The Honeyeater with the worm is a an artists photo, a beautiful capture, including its expression. A great post, and thanks for the ping-back my friend.

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    1. Hello Ashley, ahh, the joys of birding with someone with both super eyesight and a sixth sense that borders very closely on the mystical. A birding friend from Singapore called her EE, (Eagle Eyed) as he thought he was pretty good at spotting stuff, but believes EE can see birds with over the horizon eyesight. Makes sense to us mere mortals.

      Yes, there is only a bounce or two of the brickwork on the way down to put the trajectory over the cars or someone walking innocently by.
      Interestingly I used to work in the building about 3 down from that spot.

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  2. It is a great place to wander and sometimes brings a surprise or two along the way. I have seen White-bellied Sea-eagles along there! I love long walks, having been told in the shrouds of history that the best I could expect was to ‘get around’ with two canes!
    Amazing to see just how high the river has been this year. I must find some time and go for a wander and look. A shame that ‘The Office’ is closed. Can we get anywhere near the river from the other side?

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  3. G’day, Interesting comment about the canes. I am not anti-walking. Would do 4-5km a day as I walk early in the morning, (no camera). Just I find it hard to cover great distance on the chance of seeing ‘that’ bird. I’m much more your sitter and listener.

    The road in from Farm Road, is closed. Big chainwire fence. Serious heavy duty boy’s toys in there making very serious trenches. They are running a pipeline for the zoo so I’m told.
    Mind I think half of it is Mudlark larking. 🙂
    Access is still probably possible along the bike track under the Werribee River bridge. Might find a moment to have a looksee.

    Half hoping the Kites turn up again at Sneydes.

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  4. Just found the link to this one in my rather full In Basket. How disappointing about losing access to the Kingfishers, but it seems you have found a satisfying alternative place for a good birding walk. I suspect you could hire EE out as a Professional Spotter! Great work on the Sparrowhawk. And thanks for the link about the naughty SCCocky too, which I hadn’t seen.

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    1. Hello Eleanor, yes the old in basket really does burgeon at times.
      I guess we are hoping the River area will yield some good birds, but given the traffic in the area, I’m not sure we are going to see anything spectacular. But. There is always tomorrow.

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