Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and Paisley-Challis Wetland, Williamstown

Saturday 24 April 2021. Today I spent a couple of hours rambling through Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and Paisley-Challis Wetland, adjoining nature reserves in Williamstown, snapping trees, birds, oil refineries etc. The sky was mostly overcast and it was cool and pleasant. There were some yachts on the water.

A regatta on Port Phillip Bay on a beautiful morning

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve is a former rifle range, while Paisley-Challis Wetland is a reclaimed stormwater drainage area. They are two of a series of marine and wetland reserves that run almost contiguously along coastal inner-western Melbourne from Williamstown to Point Cook, linked by the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail, which begins at Spotswood Jetty outside Scienceworks and ends at Skeleton Creek in Point Cook.

At Jawbone I noticed a number of trees covered in lichen. I was quite taken with them. The yellow-green lichen on the grey bark created a very appealing palette and was particularly photogenic. Lichen are not plants but a product of the symbiotic relationship between certain species of fungi and algae.

A lichen-encrusted tree at Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Both the reserve and the wetland attract many different species of birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s wonderful eBird.org currently lists 177 species observed at Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve and 135 at Paisley-Challis Wetland (if Kororoit Creek Mouth, observable from Paisley-Challis’s coastal bird hide, is included).

The ubiquitous New Holland Honeyeater

There are two bird hides at Jawbone – one hidden among the reeds and the other further on, in plain view by the bicycle path – and one at Paisley-Challis, hidden away in coastal vegetation in the wetland’s southwest corner, overlooking the mouth of Kororoit Creek as it empties into Port Phillip Bay.

The bird hide at Paisley-Challis Wetland overlooks the mouth of Kororoit Creek

I photographed some she-oak pods at Jawbone. Sometimes small details are beautiful.

She-oak pods at Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

It wouldn’t be a proper visit without a photograph of ExxonMobil’s Altona Refinery, which has been gracing the inner-west’s skyline since 1949. But not for much longer. In February this year ExxonMobil announced it would soon decommission the iconic refinery, with the site to be used instead as an import terminal.

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve with Altona Refinery on the horizon

It was a marvellous two hours.

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