Little Visits: A Morning in the Western Treatment Plant

Due to an odd arrangement of circumstances, that would take several blog pages to cover and even more to wend the pieces together, we had decided on a trip to the Western Treatment Plant. (WTP)
What, of couse, was not in the “How to do it” manual was control of the weather.

Grandson “+D4” was staying over and t’was the only day avaible. For those interested “+D4” comes as an ‘Addition’ to the “3D’s” fabled for their “Dawdling” while on car-convoy on such trips to the WTP.

We picked up the usual Coffee-to-Go from our local and hit the highway. (Mr An Onymous, has a theory that in future times, sociologists and archeologists will conclude that ‘hit the road’ had some quasi-spiritualistic meaning and that the poor deluded ancients would go out and hit the road with their hand expecting some mystical experience—but— I digress)

The overcast, rain and high winds did not digress. Nor did they ease off. I may have mentioned before, that I can deal with the poor light and the rain at the WTP, but not the wind. It just makes getting out of IamGrey and standing in the open a truly harrowing experience and one that even the best of birds seems avoid at all costs. For those that might venture there, the track in the “Special Section” that was out along the beach area and barely passable with 2WD is now eroded to the point of being 4WD only.

So we had a fairly quiet trip about the plant. Good news is the roads are in very good condition and the closure has allowed several areas to be graded and topped and the drive experience improved no end.

We had hoped that White-winged Black Terns might have returned by now, but if so we didn’t get a sighting. The weather changes seem to have altered the plans of many returning migrants so far this season.

So as the blog is more now about the photos of the day, and less about the babble, here tis.
Enjoy

This is part of the coastal road at the Plant. Normally it is accessible by 2WD, but now 4WD and low tide are the recommendation. Erosion is quite evident. We retreated.
A small selection of Pied Oystercatchers hunkering down on a sandspit out of the wind.
This beautiful Goose has been on its own for at least 12 months, but has remained faithful to the area. I’m sure it doesn’t recognise me, but each time we go past its territory, I stop and we exchange a few head-bobs and it goes back to feeding.

I’m pretty certain it has lost its mate, the pair used to be quite the regulars in the area and nested over several seasons. For its own reasons it hasn’t ventured away to find a new mate.
Female White-fronted Chat. They seem to take extraordinary care about returning to the nest with food, and will spend many minutes checking everything out before deposting the food.
One of a pair of Brolga that were working in the T-Section
He is returning to see how things are going with his nesting mate. I’m sure that is a Swan smile
I saw the nest from the other side of the pond and we drove round for a clearer view. This clever lass was taking no chances and had built her nest in the very middle of quite a deep pond and it seems to have paid off with a lovely set of matching cygnets.
By early afternoon, the wind, the cold and the rain has gotten the best of the best of us, and we made one forlorn loop around the Western Lagoon area. Surprisingly we spotted a pair of Brolga with two quite large well developed juveniles in tow. Well worth the extra few minutes and the tired and exhausted among us were quick to respond to the opportunity. The birds seemed quite relaxed and in no hurry to go anywhere, but big long legs quickly carried them across the ponds.
Quite well developed. I’m not sure if they are fledged, but that normally takes around 3-4 months. Which just shows how silly Uncle Google can be, as I’ve seen figures of 2-3 weeks, which are impossible. They stay with the parents for nearly 12 months until the next breeding cycle.
Here is an intersting factsheet on Brolga on Farms.
For bonus points we called in to see the Hobbys on the way home. This one is now just about a ‘brancher’ and no doubt days from flight. The nest is festooned in discared down.
All tucked up secure. Three little Wagtails about a week old.

Little Visits: Serendipitous

We went to a BirdLife Werribee, (formerly Werribee Wagtails) monthly outing that included an afternoon at Serendip Sanctuary.

It’s a fairly close park for us, and we visit several times a year, and if the granndies turn up, it’s a day out in the field, but on formed tracks, and things to do, so makes a pleasing family day.  And it’s quite close to Lara Village and a certain Routley’s Bakery Pie shop. Which proved too much of a draw for Mr An Onymous and me, so we stopped off for lunch on the way through.
Furphy’s Ale and beef for him. Tandoori lamb for self.

I’m always a bit uneasy about photographing in an enclosed sanctuary area. It’s not a matter of ethics—per se—but, rather always seems to me a less challenging experience than working with the birds in the field. After all, the kangaroos have already seen a 1,000 tourists this week, so you are not exactly interesting.  They also know, people stay on the tracks, yell a lot, and move on. Some even wave, point fones at themselves and ‘whatever animal is that in the background?’ selfies abound.
So truth be told I normally wander through the area ohh and ahh appropriately, try not to get upset when someone points at a Tawny Frogmouth and says, “Oh, look, what a cute little owl!” and enjoy others enjoying their wildlife experience. (I’m not a spoil sport entirely!!!)

However it seems I’m mellowing with age. 😉

After so many trips, I’ve come to respect the locals. In their locality. Not only the ones in enclosures, but also the ‘visitors’, that have stayed on as Star Boarders. Quite a lot of the bird life is free on the wing and come and go as the season dictates. Others, for various reasons, including breeding programmes, are permanent.

And, what I’ve discovered from all that is I’m not so fussed about the lack of challenge, and much more interested in the closeup portrait.  The challenge for me is working with the bird for the right setting/location/lighting and then allowing them the freedom to move about unstressed. A humbling experience, but really has given me a feel of involvement with them as individuals. So much so that I look forward to being in their area, and hoping I’ll be able to make the best of the moments they share.

Of special interest to me is a pair of Cape Barren Geese.  These big birds have settled in to make Serendip their home territory, and with ready provided food, can you blame them. It’s nesting time right now.  One enterprising pair have made a nest site among some downed branches and scrub, not more than 5 metres from the main walking track. I spotted him first, and as he paced back and forth as people went by, I wondered, “Where is you mate”, and then I saw her.  All tucked up in her ‘secure’ haven.

The rest of the Wagtails tour/ensemble, moved on. I sat down with the pair for about 10 minutes.  Now a sitting goose doesn’t do a lot. Yet, the warm image of ‘mum’ raising her young, is such a classical performance.

Choughness, as this blog has often commented is a joy and delight to behold, especially as we don’t know the rules.
Inside the enclosure with the Brolga, there is a feeding station about brolga height. But rather attractive to your passing White-winged Chough. Except, they don’t have a good ‘hovering-flying’ technique, and so couldn’t access the food by sitting on the edge of the feeder. No where for them to attach.
Coughness is never defeated by such mere challenges.  So bend down, spring up on uncoiled legs, flap once to get direction, sail into the open feeder, grab a beak full and use those same wings to flutter back to the ground. Innovation at its best.

There is a bird enclose that houses quite a number of birds in a fly aviary.
Interestingly Buff-banded Rails are there in good numbers, and often Freckled ducks. One of the rails that I saw was quite white, so it must be a leucistic (the cells don’t have the ability to make colour).
And while I was there admiring that ‘Cute little owl’ (ggrrrr- it’s a Tawny Frogmouth!!!!), a pair of King Parrot turned up for a looksee at why wasn’t I walking through, yelling, pointing, and waving a fone about.  Thanks Mrs King, a lovely portrait session.

A day at Serendip is always a good experience with the birds, and now I’ve discovered my new friendships with them, I’ll look forward to the next trip to enjoy the photography of them as individuals, and find ways to express their character in a much more sympathetic manner.

Emu Portrait, in soft light. Finding the right background is the challenge

Oh, there you are, all tucked up in a safe nest

Sitting pretty, watching the parade of humans walking by

With a one, and two, and go. Coiled up like a spring it has to leap/flap about a metre and a half to get to the covered over feeding area.

As the old cartoony used to say, “Thunderbirds are GO!”

Incoming. Fiercely protective male makes a stunning entrance.

1907-02_DWJ_4665
Buff-banded Rail, not exactly blending in like its neighbors. Best guess is leucisim.

Mrs King, always looking resplendant.

 

Enjoy