Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Black-fronted Dotterel at the new lake

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Masked Lapwing
The children had been looking forward to the annual Traralgon Show this weekend, so it was during the course of buying take-away for a quick dinner before the Show that we discovered a new local spot for birding.
 "Where are we eating dinner Mum?" our youngest, Stevie, asked after we'd picked up some junk food from the drive thru of Hungry Jacks.
"I think we should go somewhere nice outdoors that isn't too far away. Maybe the lake a few blocks from here. Got any other ideas guys?" I asked.
 Our eldest child Jacob then told us of a duck pond near our house, that we hadn't been to before. Alan and I were doubtful that there was a place like that which we hadn't already heard of, but were nevertheless keen to find it if there was one.
spot the bird!
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Sure enough, tucked away behind a new section of housing development and in former swampy paddocks, was a brand new man-made wetland area. It consisted of a succession of ponds around a larger lake and made use of the already present small creeks there. New seedlings still in their plastic jackets were planted all around the lake along with native grasses. A concrete path encircled the lake and two lovely wooden bridges had been built on either side. Although brand new, you can see it has great potential if eventually the paths are joined up to more landscaped areas and the current rundown paddocks are revegetated with natives. Best of all would be if the former swamp it once was is returned to the wetlands it rightfully should be.
Black-fronted Dotterel
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Most of the time the paddocks are flooded and overgrown, but they still support a large number of amphibians and birdlife given their relative disuse. The area itself is unsuitable for further housing due to it's proneness to flooding and subsequent unstable ground, however the housing sprawl continues to grow further and further into it. It reminds me of similar areas in Melbourne which were once deemed as complete wasteland, but greedy developers built there anyway then sold up quickly. Without doing thorough research people took advantage of the subsequent cheaper housing prices, despite the dampness, cracks in the walls, unstable foundations, and similar problems that cropped up as a direct result of the type of land they were built on.
s/he camouflages very well....
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 Since then more modern developments tend to include small wetland areas in their epicentre as a way of beautifying the area, increasing housing values, and dealing with storm water and flooding. It's a shame to see these areas become polluted and strewn with rubbish within a few short years from being so close to high density housing, and by then, the initial developers have moved on and no longer maintain these areas. Friends groups are invaluable when developments reach this stage, however, I digress.
Back to the subject of the new lake in Traralgon.
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A pair of Chestnut Teals look to have made their home there, and with luck there will be ducklings swimming around with them soon. Other birds we observed were Masked Lapwings, Welcome Swallows, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, and Black-shouldered Kites. To our surprise, we also saw a tiny wader dart into the long grass and managed to shoot a picture of it. The photo only captured the rear of the bird though, and without being able to see the bird's head I could only identify that it was most likely some sort of small plover. We vowed to return the next day and hopefully catch a better glimpe of it.
satellite view of Traralgon in Eastern rural Victoria
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Sure enough, we were lucky today to see the bird once more, and this time, Alan managed to shoot several photos of it. The bird turned out to be a Black-fronted Dotterel, a species which we had never seen before. Further down into the swamps in the long grass we also observed some species of Sandpipers or Curlews, which hopefully we can photograph on our next visit.
Overall, it was very exciting to see this tiny little Dotterel and capture it on film for the first time. I look forward to seeing this area's plants become established and more habitat be provided for more species to call this place home.

the newly planted vegetation is clearly evident in this shot
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