Monday, 3 November 2014

A day on Phillip Island

I spent today on Phillip Island, primarily visiting friends and the National Vietnam Veterans Museum (if you have not been there, go!) but found some time for birding at a few of my favourite locations.

Fisher's Wetland
This is a great place for birdwatching and easily accessed from the road to Churchill Island Heritage Farm via walking tracks, boardwalk and viewing platforms. Birds commonly seen at the wetlands include ducks, swans, geese, coots, grebes, pelicans and swamp hens. This morning most of these were clustered on several small islands in the middle of the wetland

Eurasian Coot, Fisher's Wetland, Phillip Island

but a few Black-tailed Native-hen provided closer views (albeit fleeting - these birds are rarely still and seem to have a much lower tolerance for humans than their close relatives, coots, swamp hens and moorhens).

Black-tailed Native-hen (adult and juvenile), Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island

The island's population of Cape Barren Goose has grown rapidly in the past decade and this is one of the best places to get up close and personal with them as they appear to be quite undisturbed by people. 

Cape Barren Goose, Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island

The Boulevard, Summerland
The 'back road' along the south coast from the Nobbies to Summerland (access is from the Nobbies car park and is one way for most of the way to Summerland) has several pull out points with lookouts providing panoramic views of Bass Strait and the basalt cliffs and rock platforms of the Phillip Island south coast. These lookouts also present great opportunities for viewing and photographing birds in flight as several species of gulls and raptors exploit the updrafts along the cliff face to propel them along the coast.

This male Nankeen Kestrel (males have pale grey crown and tail; in females the head and tail are rufous-coloured like the back and shoulders) was roosting on a rock outcrop just near Seagull Rock. I've seen kestrels on exactly the same location several times before. As I was walking up the road to get a better view with the sun behind me, the bird took off and flew past and just below me giving this great close-up view.

Nankeen Kestrel (male), Seagull Rock, Phillip Island

The Silver and Kelp Gulls usually found at Seagull Rock lookout were all roosting on the rocks far below, so I moved on towards Summerland where I found several Pacific Gulls and one surprise flying past the lookout.

Pacific Gull, Summerland, Phillip Island

...the highlight this morning was this Little Raven - not a view you often get of these striking birds.

Little Raven, Summerland, Phillip Island

Kitty Miller Bay
The combination of beautiful weather, surf and the 'long weekend' meant that most of the usual beaches I visit to look for shorebirds were heavily populated with human tourists today so I opted for a stop at the beautiful Kitty Miller Bay. This bay is surrounded by rocky reefs so does not have the attraction of the surf or easy access for swimming but is a great spot for a fossick among the rocks and for birds along the shore.

There were not many small shorebirds on the beach today but a small flock of Red-necked Stint did allow me to get fairly close;

Red-necked Stint, Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island

in fact, I almost tripped over two of them while I was stalking this Eastern Great Egret

Eastern Great Egret

The strong wind was playing havoc with the usually beautifully groomed plumage

Eastern Great Egret, Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island

but did give me the opportunity for a few shots of the egret leaping around, wings spread.

Easter Great Egret, Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island

A pair of Kelp Gulls landed nearby

Kelp Gull, Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island

and sat on the water, posing for photographs.

Kelp Gull, Kitty Miller Bay, Phillip Island


  1. Phillip Island is a great place to bird - I tend to go in the winter when the crowds are thinner!

    This would be a good post to link to Wild Bird Wednesday that runs on my photo-blog on (!) Wednesdays!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. The wind-blown egret made me laugh out loud:)

    1. Hi Lorraine,
      Yes, I was laughing when I took the shot! They are usually such elegant birds.
      Cheers, Ian


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