About five minutes drive from my house is Tallawarra Power Station, which has a series of ponds/wetland areas on its grounds. I have often seen some nice pictures of birds from this site, and had long wanted to go and explore there.
Unfortunately, I needed to complete an induction to be able to get into the Tallawarra Wetlnds area and that became my biggest stumbling block when I tried to get access in October 2014. On the company’s website there are 2 emails addresses (including an online submission form), and a couple of phone numbers. Back in October 2014, I tried emailing and calling, but had no success. Phones just rang out, emails bounced back and the online submission form, that says that someone will contact me within 3-4 days, must have been on the fritz. After a few weeks of trying I just gave up.
Fast-forward 12 months and I am more desperate and more determined to get access to Tallawarra, so I rang and rang again, emailed and emailed again, and then I spotted a mobile number on one of the pages; I rang the number and someone answered! I explained what I wanted and the gentleman gave me the name and number of someone to ring – wooohoooo! Unfortunately, the person had gone home for the day and it was the Friday just before a long weekend, so I would have to wait until the following Tuesday to see if I could finally get in touch with the person who could give me the key to all I desired which, at that precise moment, was the key to the gate that would allow me into the Tallawarra wetlands (pretty sad really, isn’t it!).
After a great long weekend I went back to work on Tuesday and I was keen to ring the contact person at the Tallawarra power station. 9.30 am, and YES, she answered! There seemed to be no problems at all with me getting the key, but would have to attend an induction later in the week. I booked that in for Thursday morning first thing and, after I completed the 15 minute induction, I was given the key and a visitor’s pass for the following Saturday. Only problem was that I was not able to access the area before 7.00am, which only gave me a couple of hours of good light, before it was too bright. I was able to be there until 5.00pm if I wanted to though, so there was plenty of time for birding. Saturday could not come quickly enough!
Saturday was forecast to be around 32 degrees centigrade, and having a 7.00 am start meant that I was going to be walking around the large area that Tallawarra Wetlands occupies carrying camera equipment, water and a pair of binoculars in the heat. Thankfully, I could park quite close to the entry gate, so at least I could go back to the car and offload some things if I needed to. Well, that was the plan anyway, and you know what generally happens to my plans. The walk from the entry gate to the main pond was about 200-300 meters through, at some points, quite long grass and shrubs. The ground was also quite muddy in places, so it was quite slow progress. There was a walking track that went around the ponds, but it was quite elevated and sometimes a bit far away from the water so, when I could, I tried to walk as close to the water as I could. First bird spotted was a Golden-headed Cisticola, which was nice, but not new, followed by Black Swan, Black-fronted Dotterel and a large group of Grey Teal and Chestnut Teal. Was pleased to get some nice nice pictures of the Dotterel, but still nothing new. Then I got a glimpse of a large duck toward the middle of the main pond, a male Musk Duck, with a large lobe hanging under his bill, unmistakable and a new sighting for the year – great. There had been reports of Blue-billed Duck here in prior years, which I had not seen in the wild before, and I was keen to spot one of these as well. As I was taking some pictures of a very obliging Black-fronted Dotterel, I saw something move to my right, and there was a single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, another new bird for the year. As I moved around the main pond, I was delighted to see, and get some nice pictures of a Clamorous Reed-Warbler and Little Grassbird (both new species for year), Wandering Whistling-duck (which is the furthest south I have seen this species), Red-kneed Dotterel, Royal Spoonbill, Pied Stilt and more Yellow Thornbills. It started getting very hot by the time I had done a full circuit so I decided to head back to the car and go home for some breakfast. Luckily I did, as I had inadvertently locked a lady out of one of the gates, by bypassing her padlock when I locked the Tallawarra power station padlock. She was, understandably, a little miffed but, thankfully, she had not been waiting long.