I decided to start my year at Karkarook Park, hoping to see a Blue-billed Duck. I arrived at 8.30 a.m. and at 8.35 I had my beautiful Blue-billed Duck. 2014 is looking good!
Karkarook Park is in Warrigal Road in suburban Heatherton. Melbourne birders know it because in August 2011 an Australian Little Bittern turned up here. Otherwise, it is famous for Blue-billed Duck. I tried very hard to fit Karkarook Park into my Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia, but alas, I could not. It is, after all, just a suburban park. It is part of Melbourne Water's water purification system. Formerly a sand mine, the park opened in 2004 and caters for everyone. There is a 15 hectare lake, and fishing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing are all encouraged. There are six kilometres of shared pathways.
This morning was very grey and it rained half-heartedly the whole time I was here. I arrived at 8.30 and left at 9.40 and managed to clock up 34 species in the rain, not counting the Little Grassbird that called from a distance then most frustratingly stopped calling when I approached him, or the Grey Butcherbird that called from the car park when I was on the other side of the footbridge.
Karkarook is always good for Common Greenfinch and in summer, Australian Reed-Warblers call constantly. I have seen Latham's Snipe, Buff-banded Rail and Australian Spotted Crake here, but not today. Today I saw the usual waterbirds (but just one cormorant, the Little Black) including a beautiful Hoary-headed Grebe. Of course there are Willie Wagtails, greenies and Red-browed Finches. I saw Galahs and Little Corellas, which are becoming more and more common around Melbourne.
Altogether, what I'd call a good start to the year.