By now we’ve spent hundreds of hours birding and have seen 359 species (yes, I should update the official list). My favourite place by far is still the Western Treatment Plant (WTP) in Victoria, Australia. It requires a permit and it’s just for birders. It smells like sewage at times, but what I wouldn’t give to smell that sewage once more.
One of the first birds we saw here is Welcome Swallow. These can be seen in many places in Australia from parks in Melbourne all the way up to Northern Queensland. The Western Treatment plant is the first place I saw them by the thousands eating freshly spawned insects. It was also the first place I saw them perched.
The WTP is so well-birded that there are “well-known” spots in it that can be used to find specific species. Just take Baillon’s Crake, that handsome devil, which is best seen in the spring in Western Lagoon Pond #4 (the “Crake Pond”). Of course, you can also find a truckload of Purple Swamphens there, too.
Of course you can see Brolgas in the Northern Territory. But did you know you can see them in Victoria? The WTP is one of the only places down south to find them.
A large part of the charm of the WTP is the large landscapes of lakes, grasslands, and scrub that provide a variety of habitats for many species. During the many times we went, we’ve seen around 100 species here in total.
The WTP is a great place to see all the ducks that occur in southern Victoria, as well as the famous Cape Barren Goose. People have observed Magpie Geese here as well but we have only seen them in the north.
Let’s not forget those honeyeaters (birds in the family Meliphagidae). We’ve seen 33 species of Honeyeaters in Australia, which is not even half of them! Some, like the Singing Honeyeater, is common at the WTP.
Shorebirds like the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper are the star of the WTP. These brave creatures migrate every austral winter to northern climates like Alaska where the days are long so that they can feed all day to prepare for their next return to the southern hemisphere to breed.