Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 January 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Chestnut Teal - Roger Needham
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Roger Needham

Despite the forecast for a hot and humid day, 37 members attended the January Beginners excursion. Many small birds were seen in the car park area, including surprisingly high numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails. Soon after the walk started, a Royal Spoonbill was spotted circling high overhead. Whilst watching it, a Brown Goshawk appeared on the scene apparently inspecting the larger bird.

Dollarbird - Roger Needham
Dollarbird. Photo by Roger Needham

There was great excitement when a Dollarbird (seen two weeks earlier on the recce.) was spotted perched on the top of a tall dead tree-trunk rising from the water. It stayed in place for many minutes, enabling everyone to have a really good look.

Dollarbird - Eleanor Dilley
Dollarbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Little Black Cormorant and several Little Pied Cormorants were resting lower down in the same group of dead trees. One Little Pied Cormorant went fishing and caught and ate a decent sized one!

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 M Serong

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes - M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant feeding. Photos by Merrilyn Serong
0065 little pied cormorant eating fish newport lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 m serong
Little Pied Cormorant eating fish. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Continuing down-hill to the water level track enabled good views to be had of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes, as well as young Eurasian Coots begging for food from their parents.

Hoary-headed Grebes Newport Lakes - M Serong
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

There were very few ducks on the lake which may be attributed to the presence of some large carp which are known to nibble on the feet of ducks.

Young Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Young Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A welcome lunch was enjoyed in a convenient shaded picnic shelter near the car park. A bird call tallied 34 species for the morning at the lakes.

About 20 members stayed on to drive down Maddox Road to the shore for the afternoon session. The tide was rather high and no small waders were initially seen. However, several Common Greenshanks were observed as they foraged at the edge of the shore. A large group of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans were disturbed into flight by a very low-flying microlight aircraft.

Blue-billed Duck male Jawbone Res - M Serong
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Nothing much was seen from the track across the salt marsh but walking around the first lake in Jawbone Reserve revealed a remarkable number of species. Included were Great-crested Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck.

Great Crested Grebe Jawbone Res - M Serong
Great-crested Grebe. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Royal Spoonbills on a small island still had their breeding head plumes on display.

Royal Spoonbill - Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

They were accompanied by both Chestnut and Grey Teal, mostly resting with their heads tucked under a wing.

Further into the reserve, many different birds were seen resting at the edge of an island in one of the lakes.

Black-winged Stilt - Roger Needham
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Roger Needham

These included Black-winged Stilts, Pink-eared Ducks and several Pied Cormorants along with their smaller relatives.

Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Whilst watching the roosting birds, a White-faced Heron flew gracefully overhead as if to remind us it was time to turn for home.

Returning towards Maddox Road a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in low bushes. Surprisingly these were the only thornbills seen on the excursion.

White-faced Heron Jawbone Res - M Serong
White-faced Heron. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Back at the shore the tide had receded, leaving more mud banks available for the waders. Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers were on the distant sand-banks, and a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers with a lone Red-kneed Dotterel were in the drainage channel.

Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded for the afternoon, with a combined total of 60 for the day. Although it had been hot and humid, everyone felt they had enjoyed some excellent sightings, with ‘Bird of the Day’ clearly awarded to the Dollarbird.

View full bird listing: BM Jan 2018 Bird List Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

2 thoughts on “Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

  1. Cool photos and neat blog! I initially noticed your “cormorant vs. fish” shots. Wow that looks like a huge (do you know what kind?) fish caught and staring down its captors throat here!

    Does the cormorant really manage to win the struggle and gulp that entire thing down okay? Does the fish put up a good fight, if eaten, does the unlucky prey get swallowed wriggling all the way as well?!

    1. Thanks for your interest Kyle. Yes, the Cormorant does swallow the fish whole. It twists it around so that it goes down the “throat” head first. The fish slides down easiest that way, as fins and any other barbs tend to flatten against the body. You can find photos on the Web showing some large fish being eaten this way. I don’t know the type of fish here, but no doubt an expert on fish could tell us. The third photo in the sequence for our Cormorant, showing the bulging neck, was not published in the BLOG. However, here I have added it to the photographs on the blog, to complete the story.

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