You have a sudden urge to go birding. You decide to go to your new favourite haunt because it’s the season for crakes and rails. You’ve never seen anyone in the bird hide before so decide that it’s not worth showering or brushing your hair.
I had a migraine hangover from seeing the Dr Who Symphonic Spectacular and was concerned I’d black out in the shower.
You get to Jerringot. There is a car there. That’s cool, sometimes people park there while walking elsewhere. There is a person in the hide. That’s fine, it doesn’t matter if an anonymous stranger sees a stinky Jade wearing her only clean shirt.
Half an hour later, you discover he is the person you’ve been emailing about local birdwatching.
Cue internal groaning and expletives.
Nasal nastiness aside, it was an awesome trip
It was embarrassing being ‘busted’ at my worst. (Even more embarrassing was discovering that girl that looked like my estranged sister was, in fact, my estranged sister.) But it was one of those serendipitous moments that allowed me to score another lifer.
I saw my first spotless crake!
R. told me that there have been less crakes and rails this season because the water hadn’t dried up yet. They are often in front of the hide in the reeds and are very skittish. I never knew that! I was looking for them along the path near the golf course because that’s where the sign was. I wish there was a way to curate all the collective knowledge of Geelong birdwatchers to help newbies like myself.
It hid a lot but later, when R saw it again, he let me look at it through his scope. It was one of those times where you almost want to cry because you’ve finally seen a bird that has eluded you.
He heard, and then saw, a black faced cuckoo-shrike. It was the second time I had seen one of those. It was fascinating listening to him talk about bird behaviour and observations. It is the type of knowledge and intimacy that I want to have about birds one day.
I told him about the pink eared duck I had become quite familiar with at Balyang and how I had spotted one at Jerringot the week before. He told me about this interested feeding behaviour that these ducks do.
They also feed by vortexing, in which two ducks spin about a central point with the head of one opposite the tail of the other, concentrating food in a gyrating water column.
How fascinating is that? I’ve only ever seen one pair of pink eareds, the rest of the time I have seen one by itself. I’d love to witness this behaviour one day. Even better, to be able to capture it on either video or photos.
The rest of the ‘expedition’
The pelican was there again.
I saw two black winged stilts from the hide. There was 5-7 more and the back area. I’m wondering how much the numbers may increase?
Finally figured out that this is a common starling. I assumed it might be something more interesting because of the dotted markings under the wing.
Sadly, the highlight of the trip wasn’t the spotless crake. It was coming across this guy:
He was so close to the road that I thought he had been killed. I walked closer to check and it withdrew into its shell.
I’m not sure what it was doing so far away from the water. I’m suspecting the wind had something to do with it. It is the first time I’ve seen a reptile or amphibian here. I think it’s just a normal freshwater turtle. Part of me is concerned it may have been a dumping, especially since I saw some domestic species of duck closer to the hide.
It makes me angry at times. If you can’t look after a pet, REHOME IT. I know there is a small group of tameish ducks at Balyang and I have no idea how they affect the overall population. Probably not that much because people ignore the rules and feed them. But there? Hmmm.
I also saw this large moth with beautiful wing markings. I wouldn’t even know where to start with trying to identify it. I did find this site, though
It was a very interesting birding trip. It reminded me of how much I love the discovery process. It reminded me that I want to incorporate my love of animals and wildlife conservation into my life somehow. It’s pushing me towards actually getting my licence – something that terrifies my anxious mind. It is going to be a very scary and challenging process to not panic while driving.
Best of all, I got to feel like less of a weirdo. I met someone that is willing to travel large distances on the off chance of seeing a bird. A person who will spend an hour at a hide just to get a glimpse of a bird he’s seen before. I’ve always felt like a bit of a weirdo because of my fascination with, well, everything AND felt like an outsider in the birding community.
I know I need to join a birding community. There are several locally. The idea is somewhat daunting. There is a meeting of the Geelong Field Naturalists Club tonight but I don’t have enough money for the taxi fare home.
Damn it though, I love birding. Going to Balyang tonight in the hope that I actually see something new/different this time. Too exhausted to go anywhere else! 🙂