Victoria-Tasmania Survey Route

National Waterbird Survey – Victoria – Tasmania Survey Route

Tuesday, 18th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

We took a coastal route because most of the lakes were near the coast along the south coast of NSW. These provide prime swan habitat. There is a swan lake in NSW and also one in Victoria. Neither had that many swans on them compared to other nearby lakes. The wind was strong and so we had to change our route which was going to go inland and stay on the coast. We completed the day’s survey on the Gippsland Lakes a significantly large system of freshwater and estuarine lakes and swamps near Bairnsdale and Sale in northeastern Victoria. There were many chestnut teal and black swans on the lakes but also a few hundred migratory shorebirds and pied stilts. We have also started to see the odd Pacific Gull during our surveys.


Wednesday, 19th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

We surveyed Lake Reeve, the last lake in the Gippsland lakes to survey. There were hundreds of Chestnut teal on its shallow waters. Then south along 90 mile beach which had a few Pacific gulls and the odd fur seal. Corner Inlet had more swans than any other wetland we have surveyed so far in eastern Australia – literally thousands. The weather then closed in and we could not get around the coast of Wilsons Promontory and had to turn back to Yarram where we were kindly offered a cup of coffee. We then flew west and surveyed Western Port Bay and parts of Port Phillip Bay. The Corangamite lakes were mostly dry but many thousands of waterbirds were on Lake Colac and thousands of Australian shelduck were on the half full Lake Corangamite. Many were obviously moulting their wing feathers (primaries) and could not fly. We completed the day by flying to Warrnambool.


Thursday, 20th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

We took off with low cloud and the threat of rain and decided to complete our surveys to the west where the weather was predicted to clear. Around the town of Bolac, north of Warrnambool, there were hundreds of small lakes, most of which were dry. The lakes with water had high densities of waterbirds, particularly grey teal and pied stilts with flocks of Australian shelduck. We then surveyed the predominantly dry wetlands of the Wimmera around the town of Horsham and then back to Ballarat and finally Bendigo. This part of the continent is extremely dry with low water levels in the reservoirs.


Friday, 21st November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

Weather reports predicted light rainfall throughout the day but Bendigo was in bright sunshine. We first surveyed the almost empty Lake Eppalock (a dam) and then down south of Melbourne to the Werribee Sewage Ponds, a well known area for waterbirds. It did not disappoint with tens of thousands of birds of many species, neither did the smell. The front still had not arrived and so we flew to King Island and then on to northern Tasmania. We met the front on King Island. There were a few hundred swans on the wetlands of King Island and relatively few birds on the north eastern coastline of Tasmania. We completed the day’s survey in Davenport just before the front and its rain caught up.


Saturday, 22nd November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

Obligatory rest day for the pilot

Sunday, 23rd November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

Most of today was spent surveying the lakes in central Tasmania, high up in the mountains. These included some dams. Apart from a few swans and Australian shelduck on one of the lakes, we saw no other waterbirds. The other place we found reasonable (in the hundreds) of waterbirds was the Tamar River just downstream of Launceston. The marshes there provided habitat for black swans, Pacific black duck, grey teal and Australian shelduck. There were many wetlands across the mountains and plateaus of central Tasmania and once surveyed, we progressed down the west coast of the island to Strahan. There was a strong wind most of the day. Along the coast, there were a few sooty oystercatchers and a few small flocks of migratory shorebirds.


Monday, 24th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

The weather was poor with a high wind. We surveyed Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania near the town of Strahan before flying along the Gordon River. Only a few cormorants and Pacific Gulls in these waters. We then surveyed Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder, two dams for generating hydroelectricity. Neither is good habitat for waterbirds. We then surveyed the west coast of Tasmania. The most prominent and important area in Tasmania is Moulting Lagoon and the adjoin Apsley Marshes. There were hundreds of swans, some Australian shelduck and Chestnut teal. The small lakes along the north coast of Tasmania had tens of swans, shelduck and teal and a few small flocks of Cape Barren Geese. The wetlands of Cape Barren Island and Flinders Island were mostly dry.


Tuesday, 25th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

Today was the longest straight flight for us. We finished off the few wetlands with water on Flinders Island and then surveyed around the Monaro plain which was completely dry before trying to find a few wetlands in the mountains south of Canberra. We then flew to the inland NSW town of Cobar so that the following day we could fly northwest to complete the survey of all the inland lakes. A few lakes were missed during our previous surveys.


Wednesday, 26th November, 2008 - Observers: Richard Kingsford, John Porter. Pilot : Richard Byrne

A bright day greeted us as we went west to get a few remaining wetlands in the arid zone that we had not been able to survey. Just west of Thargomindah, the thunderstorms started to brew and soon drenched us at Thargomindah. It passed through quickly and we went on to survey the Bulla Lakes and Lake Wombah. This was another spectacular group of inland lakes with tens of thousands of waterbirds of many different species and even an island of nesting black swans.


National Waterbird Survey
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