Posts Tagged ‘Werribee


Ghost amid the trees

30 years ago walking over the marshes it was easy to get excited by something white amid the heat haze in the distance. Little Egrets were rare then and Great White Egrets were even rarer. More often than not after a trudge through calf ripping sweda it was a white plastic bag flapping in the wind. So every time I see something white now it’s instinctive to have a really good look at it just to eliminate anything inanimate first!

Walking down the Werribee river last month we saw in the distance something white among the branches of a tree on the opposite side of the river. As I lifted my bins to look at it I was half expecting it to be a plastic bag or at best a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. I was surprised to see it was a raptor. It had yellow legs and a yellow cere so I knew it wasn’t a full albino; maybe it was a bird lacking some pigmentation. It had the look of an accipiter hawk about it. However it was Tania that put a name to it. Pale phase Grey Goshawk. What a superb looking animal.


Swapping Continents

I arrived in Australia a couple of days after finishing the Southern Scotland Tour at the beginning of March. Having recovered from a bout of food poisoning acquired on the Cathay Pacific flight one of the first places Tania and I visited was the Werribee treatment plant. What a wonderful place for birds it is. For those that have never been imagine Titchwell RSPB … on steroids. It does however have the downfall of being wrapped up in colonial administration worthy of a banana republic. It reminded me of visiting a shrimp farm in Gambia thirty odd years ago when I had to offer everything I owned short of a pint of blood before I was allowed to enter. Anyways that’s a story for a different time. Having applied for a permit online to visit Werribee then travelled to pick up the gate key in a completely different location to the reserve itself, sat through a training induction for the third time in as many months, signed a disclosure document, offered up my ID and made a promise to change from my shorts into long trousers, I was on my way. … but not before being given the following parting shot by the lady administrator …. “I hope the Tufted Duck is still around for you” she said.

I had heard a Tufted Duck was floating around on one of the lagoons somewhere. Completely lost of course and way off it’s Eurasian home turf, it had even hit newspaper headlines here in Victoria. I reassured the lady that I would not be seeking any Tufted Ducks as I had in the previous few days been knee deep among them in the Scottish lowlands. I could see a moment of confusion on her face as she looked down at the Norfolk address I’d given her. I made her none the wiser as I picked up the gate key and fled the office. I can only conclude she thought Norfolk was perhaps in Scotland somewhere.

I was processing a few shots from the South Scotland Tour this week and I noticed this photo. A drake Tufted Duck, caught in the wind with a fraying hairstyle worthy of Donald Trump rather than Donald Duck. The Tuftie was sharing a pool with a rather secretive Green Winged Teal from America. It’s a small world… especially if you can fly.

Next years Southern Scotland Tour will be available for booking shortly.


Sharp as ever

I mentioned in my last post of 2018 one of the best places I visited in Victoria was a water treatment plant. In fact it was at Werribee. There were literally thousands of Sharp tailed Sandpipers. I remember travelling from Norfolk to Wales to see my first. Seeing them in such numbers and so close was a true revelation.

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Mar 2023


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