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My Kind of Town

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 11 January 2024 | Views [72]

Cockatoo View view

Cockatoo View view

IF WE EVER MOVE TO AUSTRALIA—not unthinkable considering the political climate back home—Victoria would be our first choice, probably a suburb of Geelong, a place like Newtown.  Just an hour from Melbourne and half that from some great beaches, Newtown reminds us of Southern California—without the earthquakes. 


        Welcome to Cockatoo View, Newtown Victoria


                   Cozy and Comfy

Connie selected the area to be near some birding hotspots; John found the AirBnB.“Cockatoo View” clings to the hillside between modern steel and glass homes cantilevered above the eucalyptus trees, while across the valley scores of houses perch just as precariously. Both Woolworths and Coles are within a few kilometers and there’s a wonderful park complete with cockatoos just below us where Connie takes her morning walks.


                Connie in the Park (from our deck)

The Western Treatment Plant in Little River isn’t a smelly, sludge-filled sewage treatment plant as I feared, but a 50-km long series of ponds along Port Philip Bay. It is home to hundreds of black swans and thousands of gulls, terns, waders, ducks, migratory shore birds and resident passerines—there is even a bird-hide. Connie has several target birds—four terns, a couple of crakes and one each; warbler, field wren and grassbird. John, as usual, took photos of everything. 


                       Black Swan


       Swamphen tracks in the mud, Western Treatment Plant


                      Golden-Headed Cisticola

Our first visit was mainly to get the lay of the land. The gate was locked and it took us a while to discover a path through the reeds and grass to get inside. We saw a number of birders cruising the dikes in cars—evidently you must know the password or secret handshake to get in. Or maybe it’s just a key for the gate. Either way, we had to walk. After about three miles and a thousand flies we had heard several Little Grassbirds and possibly a Striated Field Wren. John had loads of photos of everything with feathers including the Sharp-Tailed Sandpipers, Pink-Eared Ducks and Red-Necked Avocets.


                 Sharp-Tailed Sandpipers


                      Pink-Eared Duck


                           Red-Necked Avocets

It was cool and windy with a threat of rain on our return visit. We set a course directly for the bird-hide 2½ miles away, hoping to see at least one of the terns. Along the way we saw four Baillon’s Crakes scoot across the trail before I could even raise my camera. But they count! We stopped at every opening to the Bay scoping the gulls and sandpipers looking for terns but most were Great-Crested Terns—close but no cigar. Eventually we found a few dozen Common Terns on a sandbar about 100 meters into the Bay. The photos aren’t great but a W is a W, right. On the way back to the car we did manage to get a photo of one of Connie’s targets, the newly “split” Australian Reed Warbler.


                    Common Terns


                    Australian Reed Warbler

On the plus side, it didn’t rain and the wind kept the flies at bay!


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The Vagabonds at Cobh, Ireland

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