A bike ride to Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Wednesday 21 October 2020. The sun was shining, a light southerly was blowing, and Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown radius had just been extended to 25 kilometres. Altogether it was an excellent day for a bike ride to Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve in Williamstown, an old Handel favourite but inaccessible since the imposition in early August of a five-kilometre lockdown radius. Not any more! Setting out from Handel HQ, I cycled along Somerville Rd and turned right onto Hyde St. Turning onto the bicycle path, I flew past the Yarraville ExxonMobil oil terminal (actually in Spotswood); under the mighty Westgate Bridge, whose tragic (partial) collapse 50 years ago was recently commemorated; past Handel-family-favourite Scienceworks; past the iconic Newport Power Station, with its not uninteresting, vaguely modernist design; along Williamstown’s Strand and historic Nelson Place; onto Cole St and then Osborne St, passing the rather lovely Williamstown Botanic Gardens; and finally onto Bay Trail West via Victoria St and the Esplanade, arriving thereby at Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve. I cycled as far as the quiet and peaceful bird hide tucked away in the far corner of the Paisley-Challis Wetlands, a reclaimed stormwater-drainage area adjoining the reserve. Here I stopped to observe some pelicans on a tyre-pontoon; beyond, the Ocean Onyx drilling rig was still in coronavirus-induced layover. Stopping regularly to take photos, I made my way slowly back through Jawbone Reserve, admiring en route the pretty Pigface, a hardy, salt-tolerant succulent now in bloom. I noticed that the family of Black Swans I had encountered earlier was drifting slowly from east to west. I had passed them as I was heading towards Paisley-Challis; now, they were 200 metres or so further on. Despite the perfect weather, and the expansion of the lockdown radius, there were fewer people out than I had anticipated. The weekend will tell. My one regret as I cycled home was not having seen any Royal Spoonbills. According to eBird Australia a small number of that curious and charming species were indeed present at Jawbone on the day of my visit. They must have been hiding.

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