Friday, October 30, 2009

......and on to Orielton Lagoon

Feeling that I'd probably already used up my birding luck (see previous blog), I wasn't that enthusiastic about donning gum boots and plodding through the Orielton mud. Gone are the halcyon days when many of the rarer waders were seemingly regularly seen here. Such birds as Oriental Plover and Ruff spring to mind. Having said that, it's still one of the few places in southern Tasmania to see some of the less common migrant waders
My first surprise was to find a 'new' wetland, I believe courtesy of the release of 'grey' water from the nearby water treatment dams. With the high Winter and Spring rain, this water isn't required for irrigation purposes, but still has to go somewhere, hence the around one hectare wetland. My first encounter was with a Black-fronted Plover, well actually I only heard the characteristic "rattle" call, and sought it out. As I stood scanning the area of drying mud on the far side of the creek seeking the blackfont, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and only a few metres away. Second surprise, it was an Australian Crake, creeping away into the salt bush, flicking its' white under-tail as it did. This is the first I've ever seen here, and I've been a regular here for many years. Was the 'new' wetland the lure, or have they always been here?
I stood there for several minutes hoping to get a photo opp., but no reappearance, so back to the blackfronts. First one and then a second flew round, calling, and I got the impression that they were probably breeding close by. Moving on along the bank of the creek, about a 100 metres further on, I met 4 more blackfronts. Making a note to return to this spot for some attempt at photography I moved on, trying, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to avoid stirring up the breeding Kelp Gulls which "infest" the eastern side of this reserve. I quickly moved off, 'pursued' by calling gulls. They in turn disturbed a flock of Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit, just visible a kilometre away, through the heat haze. I walked through the marsh towards the golf course to the East, disturbing a few Australasian Pipits and numerous Eurasian Skylarks. Overhead small flocks of Galahs and Corellas past, calling, and I scattered several family groups of White-fronted Chats. Keeping a wary eye on me were 2 pairs of Pied Oystercatcher, by their actions, breeding close by. My goal was a closer look at a flock of small waders, which proved, as expected, to be Red-necked Stint. Numbering around 500, one was colour flagged (banded in South Australia over 800kms away), and among their number was a solitary Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Nearer the golf course, in a favourite posi., I could just make out a flock of Pacific Golden Plover, around 20. I left them in peace, and headed back to the blackfronts for an attempt at photography.
As you can see by the accompanying images, I was at least partially successful. These Black-fronted Plover have probably been 'pushed' out from the nearby overfull farm dams, as I've rarely recorded them here in recent years, and usually only an odd pair. I sat on the creek bank and 'allowed' them to come to me, which rather warily, they did, albeit on the far bank of the creek. But since I've only managed a few shots from the car before, I made the most of it.


Lachie Clark said...

Hi Allan,

We were at Shark Point road on Sunday morning and didn't see the Black fornted plover despite having seen one there on thursday night. Also didn't see the crake. We did however see a Lathams snipe on the waters edge approximately 50m from the stile.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Lachie,
Great sighting for Orielton Lagoon, I assume it was in the vicinity of the "new" wetland, which is proving to be potentially interesting--until they turn the water off! In past years, when we had good Spring rain, snipe were found commonly around lagoons and even farm dams, sometimes in small flocks!
Looks as if you're specialising in Latham's Snipe.sightings.

Denis Wilson said...

Lovely clear images.
Well done.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks for the compliment Denis. I was almost pleased with them myself! Would love to have been able to get just that bit closer...the cry, I'm sure, of many photographers.

Vijay said...

Your birding blog one of the best I have ever come across, and have bookmarked it. And, your photos are crystal clear.

Being an amateur birdwatcher with low budget, I always look for blogs to get useful info. After going through your blog, now I cannot wait till Wednesday to land in Hobart (for a short visit).