Along the Track: A Morning at the Plant

After the last couple of ranty posts, I thought I fine day at the plant might be a good idea. 🙂

The Western Treatment Plant is about the size of Phillip Island and to travel all the tracks and explore all the possible bird sites can easily consume an entire day, and a goodly chunk out of the fuel budget for the week. 🙂

We tend to be a bit selective about the areas we travel through. Preferring to stop at one location for a time and see what is moving about. It also depends a lot upon the weather. Being a flat farmland, there is little shelter from high winds or the heat of midday.

So we tend to go either late in the afternoon when conditions are good, or early in the morning. Morning can be hard at first as the long drive in from the main road is directly into the rising sun. But once in the bird area it becomes easier.

We had decided to go on the morning as the weather looked promising, and if the wind picked up as predicted then back to the Highway Lounge and a Gerry Coffee.

Here then is a look at how the morning, and the birds progressed.

White-bellied Sea-eagle being harassed by a passing Swamp Harrier. I don’t think the apex predator was fazed.
Said Swamp Harrier, then made a close pass over the reeds on our side of the lake.
The ponds held many Hoary-headed Grebes.
A committee meeting. These two Sea-eagles were resting a long way out in the middle of the large lake.
Meanwhile up close the Reedbirds were moving about in the sunshine
A small selection of the many hundreds of Hoary-headed Grebes.
Whatever the current title, I still refer to them as Mountain Duck. The nomenclature police seem to think they are Australasian Shelduck. I don’t think the birds care really. They now all have nice new feathers and will be journeying northward soon
Not sure if this Sea-eagle was from the earlier lake ones, or whether it came in from south along the beachline. But there could be as many as four working in the area at present.
This Collared Sparrowhawk was making the most of the increasing high winds. And showing off that extended middle toe.
Fueling up for a long trip ahead. Curlew Sandpiper
These two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are starting to colour up. Here they are ‘hiding’ out of the strong wind behind some reeds
It has been an increasing good year for Brolga at the Plant. We saw one pair with two well grown young. A second pair with a young one, and this third pair on their own
One of my fav inflight birds. The Little Egret
I can’t ever recall seeing an Austalasian Grebe standing up, nor on a rock. Perhaps a nest is on the way.
Also managed a great wing display just for bonus points.

12 thoughts on “Along the Track: A Morning at the Plant

  1. I loved all of these, but particularly the Curlew sandpipers. Any tips on how to catch the birds at such perfect times, as seen in your shots? Photographing birds is hard.. How do you get such perfect shots? I am an amateur photographer but always have a hard time with birds… so just wondering..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Damien, thanks for the interest.
      Don’t despair, we all started out not being able to find birds, get the light right, or even get them in the viewfinder. Perservere.
      Bright front light is probably a great start. Just have the sun somewhere behind your back. My dear Mum used to say, “Over your left shoulder, dear.”, but I discovered years later that right works just as well. 🙂
      Early morn, late afternoon is best for two reasons. One the light is richer and less stark, and two: the birds rest during mid-day.

      Helps also if you have an area that you frequent, and get to know the various inhabitants of the area, and can see changes in numbers, fav perching spots and the like.
      We tend not to travel a lot for birds and regularly visit some spots a couple of times a week.
      And finally, some birds migrate or are nomadic, like the Curlews, so its best to learn a bit about the habits of the local birds.

      Else, just practice.
      You might like the post

      Little Visits: Dressing for Autumn

      As there is a great quote from Brad Hill about allowing birds to approach you.

      Hope that helps. Stay in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That totally helps, and makes sense, because I feel like I have seen other bird watchers doing what I thought to be strange, it looked like they were photographing the sun sometimes. It sounds like a different technique then I was ever aware of. I am making a mental note to check out that post, I exhausted myself all day thinking about my ex, I am a basket case right now.. thank you for your answer to my question. I will check that out and get back to you as soon as I read it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just realized how much your mom sounds like my mother, and hers, which made me smile, because it helped me hear my dead grandmother’s voice in my head. Thank you for that, as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you chose the right time to visit the farm and your local knowledge has paid off in spades!
    A wonderful selection of birds seen and photographed!
    Very pleasing to view! I must get back down there one day – it has been so long I will probably get lost!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David. It is a place we used to regularly visit, but we only go occassionally now. It’s a rare day that we’d spend more than a few hours, and tend to favour the southern end of the plant.
      Some changes coming up for keyholders and the “Special Section” gate will become accessible by all keyholders.
      The thing that stops us going so often is that the sheer number of visitors that go there now. Great for photography and birding, so that’s good, but it puts serious pressure on the facilities and some seem to think its a good excuse for rallycross.


  3. What a lovely day’s find David. It makes us want to explore this huge Western Treatment Plant we have heard so much about, it sounds enormous in size. All beautiful shots mostly of birds we seldom or never see here. Especially love your Sparrowhawk shot with toes in full view, something I have wanted to see for myself. as most times we never get a good look at the toes. Yes petrol is a concern now that it is so much more expensive, and limits how far afield we travel these days. We would do long day trips birding in the past but now we limit these, as it can easily cost $100 in fuel on some trips, which makes us decide that we are birders and not twitchers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ashley. A friend of mine has a 45min rule. But he does live in a pretty bird rich area. We don’t travel for a number of reasons. One being we are happy to work with local birds. We don’t twitch and l don’t even keep an online bird tally

      The Plant is quiet at the moment. I think many birds don’t show up until the inland drys out and then the Farm offers a reliable source of water.
      That said there were several hundreds perhaps a thousand or more Hoary-headed Grebes in residence. Most unusual

      Sometimes there can be 10,000 Pink-eared Duck. But we’d be hard pressed to locate more than a handful at present

      Glad you liked the Sparrowhawk pic. I too was very impressed to see the Long toes so clearly on show. Normally they are at the back of flight shots and hard to see

      Now the season is changing we might get some new opportunities

      Keep takin’ pictures. We do

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing collection of beautiful birds you’ve gathered that morning! I’ve gasped at the sight of almost each and every one (or two) of them. The Little Grebe on the dry land was almost too much and then it spread its wings…
    That tyranny of distance really hurts, although there is only one bridge to cross….


  5. A superb series of photos, with an interesting narrative to go with those photos…! Thanks David; once again, I’ve enjoyed your Blog…!

    Liked by 1 person

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