Yesterday was the first time Glenn and I had gone on a Melbourne adventure in yonks. I hadn’t been there independently since June, other then trips to and from the airport last month. I’d been wanting to go birdwatching there but was utterly confused as to where I should start.
I saw Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve appear a number of times on Eremaea. In fact, someone else was there yesterday too! I looked it up and it was pretty easy to access, plus was a different environment to the generic wetlands I go to. It had several species I wanted to see, such as the blue billed duck, and was close to an area that Glenn would like to photograph.
Life would be so much easier if driving didn’t scare me so much!
We started at Williamstown and immediately walked to the information centre and around Gem Pier. I really recommend this – the info centre had brochures on all the parks and birdwatching destinations. The lady there recommended that I just walk around the beach to Jawbone.
We spent about 40 minutes around Williamstown photographing things. I’ll be writing about that later – we could easy have spent an afternoon there.
Jawbone was about a 30-40 minute walk away. There were several times I wondered ‘is this it?’ If it’s just a beach – you aren’t there yet. You may see some cool birds offshore but Jawbone is an actual wetland-ish environment.
About 10 minutes out of Williamstown I saw some birds on rocks sticking out of the ocean. A lot of cormorants and – tada! Crested Terns!
There was also a couple of pacific gulls, which I got really excited about. I initially thought they were shearwaters. I never thought I could get interested in offshore birds and didn’t know if I’d want to do pelagics but now, I know otherwise. Which is dangerous *evil grin*
There was also lava blister, which had an informative sign near it. This entire walk was actually part of the Hobson Bay trail (something I want to finish walking) and it was quite educational. Lots of signs and information about the history of the area.
I saw these white fronted chats on some grass. Don’t know anything about them but they are another lifer!
There were a number of pelicans and swans along the beach and at Jawbone itself. I got some awesome photos of this guy eating a fish!
Then, finally, I was there! Initially I was disappointed. I found a small wetland area with bridges that seemed very suburban and reminded me of Balyang. There were no birds there other then swamp hens.
Was this it? I walked all this way to see birds I see at home all the time? I consulted the map, and walked further on.
A bird hide!
There is a lake that hugs the coastline. There is a lot of birdlife here. Spoonbills, cormorants, swans, pelicans. It would be very easy to spend a long time here. The western suburbs have a lot of great bird-watching areas.
The hide wasn’t very good for photography. It was hard to get a good look at anything. The birds were fine when I walked around the area itself, though.
There was several stilts around, which I was very excited to see. Later, I looked at the photos again and noticed a dotterel! Finally, some birds I had been wanting to see!
I got this awesome photo of a black swan landing on the water. It looks like it is skiing. It’s a really great area for photography.
I was at the end, on the side near Altona. I saw a bill that looked, well, blue.
I had never seen one in the wild before so I couldn’t be sure. I was on a bridge at the time and there was a dad and his kids riding past me. I know I said ‘oh my god!’ and couldn’t wait to get home to double check.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, we’ve mucked up the camera settings AGAIN and all the photos had a blueish tinge. How could I tell if the bill was actually blue and not something the camera had created?
Look at the tail. I didn’t notice until I checked te book afterwards but that is the real giveaway. The musk duck has a similar tail.
It’s hard to explain how relieved I am to finally see the bird. It eluded me at Lake Lorne, although the freckled duck is apparantly rarer. I certainly didn’t expect to see it. I was content to see a couple of new sea species. It was such a relief though.
I don’t feel so frustrated now. I’ve knocked two ducks off the list. I’m obsessed with ducks and waterbirds at the moment. I want to see as many as possible!
I’m also fond of my current method of learning. I don’t read extensively on the birds I want to see. I choose an area and research the best places to view the birds and just learn on the go. It’s a lot more satisfying to figure this stuff out organically. I know I want to join the birdwatching community and start learning the technical stuff but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet. I’ve always known my best methods of learning and I think doing it myself makes me happier.
I ended up catching a bus from Kororoit Creek to Williamstown station. The bus is actually really close to the end but is infrequent. I recommend researching public transport as this walk was really difficult for me. I didn’t pack water and needed to be back in Geelong at a certain time.
I definitely plan to return to the area and explore more of the reserves in the region. Specifically Cherry Lake, Altona Coastal Park, Newport Lakes Park and Cheetham Wetlands. This would all be so much easier with a car.
I think I will explore the rest of the sections via the Hobson Bay Trail. Split it into 2-3 more trips and devote time to properly exploring the area. This will allow me to go on detours and properly birdwatch.