Do you like the experience of a drive-in cinema? Well, there are numerous such locations in Altona. The actors are however somewhat special for they are not humans but are rather the abundant birdlife attracted to the charms of Altona.

There are actually quite many carpark lots directly facing the Altona Bay along the Esplanade. One particular carpark area where you can get a good panoramic view of these beautiful creatures is opposite the G.H. Ransom Reserve (GPS coordinates S37.873855, E144.816529) as eeen in the following map.

The actors are committed, professional and have strong work ethics, for they replay their acts continuously and consistently on a daily basis, 365 days a year. I only discovered this spectacular phenomenon recently when I jogged to the beach one early morning. The best time will probably be around 7-8 a.m. as the birds may become less abundant later as the day gets hotter.

Bird Flight 01
Altona Pier and Norfolk Island Pines along the Esplanade in the background

I told my wife we must wake up early, go to the beach and enjoy this scene together as a family. I suggested to my wife the next time we should pack a sandwich breakfast, bring some coffee and newspapers, and watch nature plays itself from the comfort of our car. This idea is however not original as I believe many people would have done the same thing but without drawing the analogy to the “drive-in theatre”.

The most abundant birds that you can see are the seagulls and the black swans. In the photo below, you can see a large number of black swans and four ship vessels in the far horizon. It may be possible to identify these ships for you can click here to know what ships are currently in Port Phillip Bay.

Black Swan C
The Black Swan Ballet

The swans seemed to move in synchronized steps like in a dance choreography. Sometimes, they all straighten their necks high as in the above photo and the next moment, they all arch their necks down into the water as in the following photo. My wife was wondering where these numerous swans come from. Are they the indigenous inhabitants or are they released exogenously into Altona Bay through deliberate human actions?

Black Swan 03

When we were about to go home, we saw a number of pelicans, that are about the same size as the black swans and are white in colour. In the same photo, the black swans are swimming in a single file, all in the same direction to the west.

Pelicans 02

Among the many seagulls, we can spot one or two white ibises which coexist peacefully with their more numerous neighbours. Being rarer and having a longer beak and pair of slender legs, they stand out from among the smaller seagulls.`

White Ibis & Seagulls 02

Photography enthusiasts have organized special trips to places like Livingstone Island, Nelson to take photos of birds there. When I was there, I could only see a handful of birds which contrasts sharply with the abundant birdlife that I see in Altona. I should count myself fortunate to be able to live only a short distance from such a bird haven.

Black Swan B
Serenity of the Altona Bay