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Archive
 

  Guided birding tours in the Greater Melbourne region

 
     
 

WESTERN TREATMENT PLANT, WERRIBEE .

 

 

Weekly Morning Tour

 

This is a half day tour designed to take in the sights and sounds of the world-renowned Western Treatment Plant.   Perfect for beginners and experienced bird-watchers alike, this full morning tour is an ideal introduction to the wide variety  of birdlife to be found just on Melbourne's outskirts.  

 

A visit to the plant is visually spectacular and a feast for the eyes, and also offers amazing diversity in the sheer number of species, where it is not uncommon to record 100+ species in a day's visit. The list for the plant is in excess of 270 species and still growing!  

 

Birding at Western Treatment Plant

 

The WTP is a vast complex of lagoons, swamps, waterways, grasslands and shoreline, with much of the coastal wetlands under tidal influence. This array of habitats allows for an abundance of waders, waterfowl and other waterbirds that take advantage of the food-rich mudflats and shallow lagoons for feeding, with nearby areas of higher ground for roosting.  It is not uncommon to see flocks of a thousand or more Pink-eared Duck put to flight by a Swamp Harrier cruising past, or see literally hundreds and hundreds of Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper spread out over the mudflats feeding frantically in order to maximize energy reserves for their northern migration to the Arctic Circle.   Hordes of Hoary-headed Grebe patter away across the water on your approach, while huge numbers of Australian Shelduck take off in unison to feed in nearby fallow fields.

 

There are designated birding routes set out by Melbourne Water for the best locations to view birds and these are what we will traverse in our exploration of the area.

 

Birds we can expect to see on a tour of the plant include Cape Barren Goose, Australian Shelduck, Pink-eared Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Musk Duck, Chestnut Teal, Pied Cormorant, Royal Spoonbill, Straw-necked Ibis, Whistling Kite, Swamp Harrier, Brown Falcon, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, Whiskered Tern, Golden-headed Cisticola, Striated Fieldwren, Flame Robin and Yellow-rumped Thornbill.  

Less common species include Lewin's Rail, Spotless Crake, Fairy Tern, Blue-winged Parrot, Great Knot, Eastern Curlew, Grey-tailed Tattler, White-winged Black Tern, Pacific Golden Plover, Black Falcon, Australasian Bittern, Banded Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and White-bellied Sea-eagle.  

However it is the large number of rarities that have been seen here that the plant is famous for.   Waders feature most notably and include Long-toed Stint, Little Stint, Stilt sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Australian Painted Snipe, Lesser Yellowlegs, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Oriental Pratincole, Little Curlew, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ruff, Red-necked Phalarope and Hudsonian Godwit.

Other vagrant species that have turned up include Franklins Gull, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Northern Shoveler, Arctic Tern, Brown Skua, Plains Wanderer and Orange Chat.  

The Western Treatment Plant is also famous for the fact that it supports a small number of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.   During the winter months a handful of these parrots migrate from breeding grounds in Tasmania and utilize areas of saltmarsh habitat found along sections of the coast for specific food resources.   The survival of this species in no small part owes itself to the plant's existence and decades of careful habitat management by Melbourne Water.

 

Tour Details

 

Tours operate every Saturday and Sunday subject to demand.  

 

Cost is $95 per person, minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 12.

Group bookings welcome. Seniors discount of 10% available.

 

Meeting time is at 9.10am outside the Werribee Railway Station, Melway Ref 205 J7, 2009 Ed.   The first Werribee train leaves from Flinders Street at 8.21am on the Werribee line for those who wish to use public transport.

From here we will transfer to one vehicle and take the short drive to the plant.  

 

Join us for some fantastic birding - you won't be disappointed!!