A friend is down from Queensland for the week to attend a vet conference in the city. She arrived yesterday morning. After lunch in Yarraville (at Hausfrau in Ballarat Street), we decided to go for a walk in the You Yangs. That was the plan. The reality was a bit different.
'You'll like the You Yangs,' I said. 'They're the most prominent landmark on this side of the city.'
Well, Matthew Flinders may have seen them from the Bay, but we couldn't see them from the freeway (which is much closer). The whole area was blanketed in smoke from a fire somewhere. There was no point heading up the hills because the view would have been awful, so instead we went for a drive. It seems to me that every intersection (not that there are many in Mad Max country) bears a signpost for the Anakie Fairy Park*. Forget about Rome, all roads lead to the Fairy Park.
We opted for Serendip Sanctuary and got there about 45 minutes before closing. On the way in we saw a brown falcon (Falco berigora) but no wedge-tailed eagles, which are fairly common around the You Yangs. (Presumably the smoke was making it difficult for them to spot food. Or paragliders.)
Only a handful of people were at the Sanctuary, so we could watch the birds in relative peace. Within moments of sitting down in the first hide, we saw four whistling kites (Milvus sphenurus), two black kites (Milvus migrans) and a lone brave and/or foolish white-plumed honeyeater that thought it would harass all of them. (We also saw the usual array of magpie geese, chestnut teal, Pacific black ducks and masked lapwings and the odd eastern grey kangaroo and emu.) It was three-quarters of an hour well spent. I really must get down to the Sanctuary more often.
* If you really need to know what this is, Google on Anakie "Fairy Park".