Sunny days bring birds at play

Denis Sleep's picture of a petrel. 169467

Winter has well and truly arrived on the Bellarine, but it’s still been sunny and pleasant enough to allow some lovely outdoor activity.
I’m writing this early on a glorious, sunny Tuesday morning and have just spotted a spiny-cheeked honeyeater in my garden, which has made my day already.
I had an hour to kill on my way down to Melbourne so I had a quick drive to Avalon Beach, where I spotted two red-kneed dotterels, which are always very cute. The red-kneed dotterel is a small wading bird, and a member of the plover group of birds. The birds have long legs, red knobbly knees, a black cap which covers the eye, and a black breast-band which contrasts with a white chin and throat band. The upperparts of the bird are greenish brown and the underparts are white. Plovers are waders that have short bills. They feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates which are obtained by using sight rather than probing with their beaks, unlike other waders that have varying lengths of beak to obtain their food. I also saw a few swamp harriers and whistling kites near the Western Treatment Plant and I’m still trying to take a decent photo of a swamp harrier, but they just won’t pose for me.
I also had another drive to Inverleigh via Lethbridge. I have discovered a back road where I have spotted many kestrels and brown falcons and flame robins and pipits and it’s just a lovely. I have also driven a few times down Coriyule Road, Curlewis, where the new estate is expanding before my eyes and the pipits and raptors will have to find a new home very soon.
I saw a lovely male flame robin on a fence post in Curlewis this week and he was eating a caterpillar that was half his size in length, which must have been quite a delicacy.
The Bellarine Birdlife Group had an outing last week to various places around the Bellarine Penisula, and while bird spotting in The Rip due east of the Lonsdale lighthouse they saw a petrel, which is a large seabird, which had a large white bill. Denis Sleep took some photos of the bird. It took a while to identify the bird and to differentiate it from other petrel species including black, westland and white-chinned petrels. Peter Bright posted a photo of the bird on the Bird ID site on Facebook (Facebook is good for some things) and the consensus is that the bird was a juvenile southern giant petrel. Wow – how fantastic! Thanks Denis for allowing me to include his photo with this article.
I also noted on Birdline Victoria that a lucky person saw a white-bellied sea eagle at Swan Bay pier. What a sight that must have been. I’ve been to Swan Bay pier countless times and have never seen a sea eagle there. You just need to be lucky and in the right place at the right time.
If you are interested in organised birdwatching trips (where you might see a petrel), you can access the calendar of events run by Bellarine Birdlife at
Jen Carr,