A number of trips were taken to the Western Treatment Plant this month and it is always an exciting time of year as there are migrants leaving, migrants arriving and everything in-between; anything can turn up. With 117 species seen in total during the month on all of our trips, the highlights were many. These included a Kelp Gull, my first record here on the plant in over 26 years of visits, returning Cattle Egret in good numbers by months end, migrating Yellow-faced Honeyeaters looking incongruous as they passed through flying low over the saltmarsh, in early April at least 70 Blue-winged Parrot present in the western end of the plant along the coast; this is an unusually high number for here. Amongst one flock that passed us in flight we also heard what was probably an Orange-bellied Parrot, and indeed two were seen nearby less than a week later by other observers. At least 2 Spotted Harrier continued to put in an appearance around the place, as did a single Glossy Ibis, Nankeen Kestrel starting turning up early in April and by months end at least 6 were present, they are recorded here quite irregularly. A single Whiskered Tern was seen a couple of times, at least 1-2 turn up again around this time most years. Flame Robin had returned with small groups seen along fencelines around the plant, a true sign winter is on the way. Other slightly odd sightings included a small handful of late Short-tailed Shearwaters offshore, an Olive-backed Oriole seen twice along Pt Wilson Rd, and along with the remaining small flocks of Red-necked Stint, some of which looked immaculate in freshly moulted breeding plumage, was a lone Ruddy Turnstone which itself was resplendent in its rich and colorful alternate plumage.
The remainder of the tours for month of April were all spent in areas west of Melbourne, and these included Pt Addis at the head of the Great Ocean Road, the Breamlea and Kiraaf Wetlands area, Pt Lonsdale on the Bellarine Peninsula and the Brisbane Ranges National Park and You Yangs Forest Park. Some of the more interesting sightings included good numbers of Little Penguin basking off Pt Addis as well as smaller numbers of White-capped Albatross and rafts of Fluttering Shearwater observed from the clifftops. In the nearby coastal scrub we were able to observe a couple of Rufous Bristlebird very closely, affording great photographic opportunities. In the nearby Anglesea Heath were Tawny-crowned & Crescent Honeyeaters, as well as Southern Emu-wren, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo and Forest Raven. A visit to the Brisbane Ranges National Park on a beautiful sunny morning produced good form with stunning views of a Spotted Quail-thrush pair, a covey of Painted Button-quail observed closely on the ground, charming Speckled Warblers, Australian Owlet-nightjar and an abundance of Scarlet Robin throughout. The You Yangs Regional Park was consistently good to with the site-faithful Tawny Frogmouth pair seen on several occasions, plus Brush & Common Bronzewings, Restless Flycatcher, Flame Robin, Crested Shrike-tit and Weebill showing beautifully.