Sunday, 27 August 2017

Victoria Lagoon

Victoria Lagoon

Victoria Lagoon is a large body of water located just behind Hollands Landing. This lagoon is a popular spot for Red Necked Avocet and Stilts, as well as migratory waders. 

The best way to get to Victoria Lagoon is by parking at Rucker Avenue, off Hollands Landing Rd. You can then either use a spotting scope to scan out over the mud flats and water, or if the water level is low, you could walk around the lagoon. Be aware, that there is private property around the lagoon, so stay out of the fences. 

Victoria Lagoon-Google Maps

I had visited Victoria Lagoon several times in the last 12 months, but I hadn't seen a great deal. However, when checking the lagoon out a few days ago with some fellow Birdlife birders, a good number of birds were sighted. We didn't have much time, so I went back on the Saturday to check it out. 

It was about 1:30 PM when we arrived at Victoria Lagoon. We parked at Rucker Ave, and scoped the opposite shore line. I could faintly make out some small terns and some small shorebirds. 

Victoria Lagoon is notorious for its heat shimmer and glare from an afternoon sun, making it practically impossible to clearly see birds on the water and shore. So, I had to move around the southern end of the lagoon to get the sun behind me, as well as get closer to the terns. 

Trying to photograph birds from a distance of 400 metres with a heat shimmer.

We walked towards the south end of the lagoon, and then turned west. Here, we found a number of small areas of water, surrounded by vegetation. These mini "lagoons" were teeming with shorebirds. At first, I could see Red Necked Stints and Red Capped Plovers. However, I could see a noticeably larger bird, which I moved closer to for a better look. This bird turned out to be a Curlew Sandpiper, and after some searching, I was able to see 7 of them. I was also able to pick up 2 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.

Red Necked Stint

Red Necked Stints

The Curlew Sandpipers were behaving noticeably different to the Stints. While the Red Necked Stints were feeding on the exposed mud, the Curlew Sandpipers were feeding in the shallow water. While the water would have only been a few centimeters deep, the stints were avoiding it.

Curlew Sandpiper
Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

After photographing the waders, we moved around the edge of Victoria Lagoon some more. Here, we came across a large number of Red Necked Avocets, with a few Banded Stilts. The few days before when I was there, the stilts had far outnumbered the Avocets, but this time if was the opposite. I don't know where the rest of the stilts had gone, perhaps to another part of the lagoon?

Red Necked Avocets and Banded Stilts

After walking another few hundred meters, I was able to get withing photographing distance of the terns. There was a couple of Caspian, 1 Crested and about 17 Little and Fairy Terns. The Caspian took flight while I was a great distance away, but the others were very tolerant of me. 

 One of the terns had an orange leg flag. I have been informed that a Fairy Tern had been photographed with a leg flag similar to this on the Gippsland Lakes last year. Maybe this was the same bird?

Eventually the tern took flight, and I quickly withdrew. They settled back on the mud when I had walked away only a few metres.

My visit to Victoria Lagoon was a great time. It was great to be able to see the shorebirds, particularly the Sharp Tailed and Curlew Sandpipers.

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