Dog ban enforcement needed

White-bellied sea eagle

It has been rather cool for the beginning of summer, which has been quite lovely.

Despite this, the farm fields are drying out, and I am having to water my vegetable patch regularly.

My highlight of the fortnight was a lovely trip to Western Treatment Plant with Tom Fletcher. The ‘Poo Farm’ has been closed for most of the year due to the pandemic, so it was just wonderful to see Lake Borrie once again.

The highlights were spotting a pair of white-bellied sea eagles, a small flock of bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits, and pied oystercatchers wandering past the birdhide.

I stopped at Blue Rocks at the end of 13th Beach one day on my way to work. I saw about 30 red-necked stints, which are small (17cm in length) migratory shorebirds. One of these birds had a blue leg flag, and when I looked at my leg flag book this indicates that the flag was applied in Japan.

I received an email from Ocean Grove local Chrissy, who along with her partner George, visit Blue Rocks regularly. They have been appalled at the regular flouting of the no dog ban in that area. They witnessed horse riders on that beach recently and duly reported them (as they have reported the recalcitrant dog owners).

George and Chrissy are in ongoing discussions with Barwon Coast, COGG, Birdlife etc about efforts to tighten up enforcement of the dog ban. I think people who love seeing the migratory shorebirds appreciate the precarious and fragile state that they are in and the struggles for survival that they face. If a sign says ‘No Dogs’ that means ‘No Dogs’. Please take the furry friends elsewhere where there are no signs.

I also spotted a pair of black-fronted dotterel at Hospital Swamp (so I’m looking for a few chicks to eventuate soon). Also at Hospital Swamp I saw two newly fledged brown falcons. The juvenile brown falcon resembles dark adult birds, but have less obvious barring on the tail, and a buff-yellow colour on the face, throat and nape of the neck.

I received an email from Susanne, who has a lovely property in Wallington. She has a pair of superb fairy wrens living in the shrubs at her front door. Susanne thinks that these birds are in serious courting mode, as they twitter away, jumping all over each other, and preen each other. She also has nankeen night herons perching and calling in a tree in her front yard.

There’s also been sad news from our beaches with none of the hooded plover chicks from the Ocean Grove spit and 13th Beach (five chicks in total) lasting more than a few days before they were taken by predators. It has been tough for the hoodies as volunteers have not actually been able to police the habitat areas due to COVID-19 restrictions. Signs to alert beach goers about the presence of the chicks were put in place and it was noticed that many people just walked past the signs and ignored them. Hopefully volunteers will be able to help the hoodies soon.

I visited The Hive gallery in Ocean Grove to view the incredible exhibition of bird art by Richard Weatherly, OAM. I also purchased Richard’s new book, entitled ‘A Brush with Birds’. Richard has spent more than 50 years observing birds and their natural habitats around the world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe to New Guinea, Australia and America. The exhibition was outstanding, and the book is a must for many Christmas stockings. I was honoured to have my book signed by the artist himself.

I was very lucky to see a small flock of little lorikeets and purple-crowned lorikeets in Woodlands in Ocean Grove. I was able to photograph them to identify the birds, but they were high up in the yellow gums. I would like to thank Pete and Chris who live in Woodlands for the ‘heads up’ that these birds were around.