Another year…..

….of blogging about to start, and where better to kick off than the wetland that is as interesting as I’ve ever seen it in the twenty five years I’ve been working and birding there. From 1988 to 1992 I did quarterly surveys for a wetland bird study conducted by the Vic Group of Birds Australia. The Macalister Swamp Reserve to give its proper title, has been a notable location for the migratory Latham’s Snipe that usually arrive in late August. On the nineteenth of February 1992, when the snipe were gathering prior to flying north again to their breeding grounds on the island of Hokkaido, I counted two hundred birds, which shows what an important site for the species this small reserve has been. Soon after, a huge August flood forced the snipe out just after they arrived, Council amalgamations saw the reserve neglected and deteriorating, and they never returned in the numbers we used to see. I would often only flush one or two birds, and sometimes none at all, they had found alternative locations to spend their holidays.
Happily, the reserve is now hosting a good number of snipe once again, thanks to rejuvenation work carried out under an Envirofund grant, with involvement by the Wellington Shire, the West Gippsland Catchment Authority, and my cousin Robert whose great work I detailed here.
Latham’s Snipe is a very wary bird and in my experience very difficult to photograph. Their cryptic colouring blends in with the cover they frequent, and often the first you know of them is when they flush and speed away with that jinking flight. This one was a good distance away but the photo taken in the morning light came up quite well.

latham's snipe

Blue wrens in numbers are finding the mudflats fertile hunting grounds for their insect prey, this patriarch checked out my friend and me before returning to keep an eye his family.

blue wren

And a careful stalk to a gap in the reeds caught this Royal Spoonbill spending New Year’s Morning investigating the goodies on offer in the shallows.

royal spoonbill

Have a Happy New Year everyone, and click to enlarge.

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