Saturday, 18 January 2014

Barwon River above Buckley Falls

It was good to get out of the house this morning after a torrid week, four days above 41°C. It was back to the low twenties and members of the Geelong Field Nats found the walk along the Barwon River very pleasant.

View west from Newtown Lookout, smoke haze from the Grampian fire over the Barrabool Hills
We met at Baums Weir on the north bank of the river near Fyansford, and walked downstream along the footpath as far as the old paper mill near Buckley Falls. It's not very far but, at typical field nat's pace, it took all morning. The river environment has been highly modified by industrial activity (there were several flour mills as well as the paper mill along this stretch of the river), steps, landscaping, footpaths, weirs and quarrying. There are several old quarries along the way so we were able to see the evidence of long-ago volcanic activity here and downstream at Buckley Falls. The Friends of Buckley Falls have been very active for several decades, weeding and planting as well as fighting bureaucracy to create a buffer between the river and the encroaching suburbs. It's still a work in progress but the results so far are magnificent.

Baums Weir
Near the bridge on Geelong Ring Road where it crosses the Barwon.
The race (at left) was constructed in the 1870s to feed water to the paper mill.

Suburbia is not far from the river and getting closer.
Old quarry 
Old quarry
Fairy Martin nests in the old quarry
Buckley Falls
Today we saw a variety of birds along the river (Crested Shrike-tits, Grey Fantails, Silvereyes, cormorants, ducks, Grey Shrike-thrush, Red-browed Finch, Brown Thornbills etc) as well as raptors flying overhead (Whistling Kites, Black Kites). A highlight was the group of seven Whistling Kites moving and talon-grappling in the thermals overhead.

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