“Would you like to come to a sewerage farm?”

Sean Dooley, in his excellent book, ‘The Big Twitch” frequently bemoans the ineffectiveness of the pick-up line: “I am going to a sewerage farm tomorrow. You wanna come?”

I did, however, thankfully accept such an invitation, albeit not in the pick-up context. The Werribee Water Treatment wetlands are certainly worth the effort. More birds than you could poke a stick at!

The most critical infrastructure was in place:



You need to apply online for a permit. Unfortunately, one of the rules is that you aren’t allowed to drive  your tractor into the ponds – that nearly stopped the trip dead in its (the tractor’s) tracks. But we got over that disappointment, and having got the key, headed out past Werribee to Point Wilson, where the geographically misnamed wetlands are to be found. Despite the nature of the products here treated, toilet facilities are alluringly scarce – the one toilet, looking new – was closed due to a safety issue?

I reckon the ponds occupy about 20 square kilometres. Avalon airport is visible to the west from most of the wetlands. There is a hide on the edge of Port Phillip Bay. If you were going I would try to get there at mid to high tide, but this is an improvement not an issue.

Cattle grazing and cornfields exist within the area. Black Kites (identifiable by the bit (B for black) missing in the tail ie a concave end to the tail, are plentiful in the dry fields in the middle.



I didn’t know Brolgas came this far south:

There were thousands of Australian Shelducks, with some close couples apparently:

IMG_0491My first sighting of Red-necked Avocet was followed by sightings of hundreds of them:

Whilst I did see an occasional Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on the north coast of New South Wales, there were hundreds here:

IMG_0343I had also never seen the Glossy Ibis before – further north there are the Sacred (Australian) and Straw-necked:


No Straw-necked Ibis evident, but the Sacred (Australian) was:

IMG_0545The Yellow-billed Spoonbill and the Little Pied Cormorant seemed quite at home with the Glossy Ibis:

The usual suspects were also about, the Eastern Great Egret (non-breeding –  the dark shading on the bill is longer when breeding), and the White-faced Heron:

And amongst the usual suspects were hundreds of Black Swan:

IMG_0351Whilst I have seen lots of Black-winged Stilts, I have certainly never seen so many in one place:

It was also my first sighting of the White-fronted Chat:

As always it is worth checking the apparently amorphous duck population carefully. Lots of Pink-eared ducks about:


Lastly, and identified by my knowledgeable advisor, the Golden-headed Cisticola and Australasian Pipit.


What an extraordinary place!

Michael Monaghan

February 26, 2019



2 thoughts on ““Would you like to come to a sewerage farm?”

  1. Hi Michael,

    Nice work. We enjoyed the day.

    Of the two unidentified birds, the first is a “Golden-headed Cisticola” and the second an “Australian Pipit”!

    I will send you a full list of the species that I have photographs of when I finish processing them.

    Cheers, Caroline


    1. Thanks. I was just telling my friends here that I knew I could rely on you. I was getting close.

      I am just getting the You Yangs ready to post.

      Thanks for the day. It was most enjoyable.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10


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