First of all, an apology - if anyone has tried to
contact me by email over the past couple of weeks and has been fuming about not
receiving a reply, my email facility has been out of action and is only just now
back and running. So please re-send.
I spent a few days last week in Gippsland, with
work, so limited birding opportunities. Sightings of interest
- Plenty of White-bellied Sea-eagle sightings around
Paynesville and Lakes Entrance, and at Mallacoota, including an encouraging
number of immature-plumaged birds.
- A Nankeen Night Heron on a Raymond Island jetty
near the Paynesville ferry, about 10 pm.
- Caspian Tern, Azure Kingfisher, Collared
Sparrowhawk (soaring, showing clearly square-tipped tail, probably big enough
to be female) and Australian Hobby (chasing flock of Silvereyes) at Marlo boat
- Spotted Quail-thrush belting across the road in
front of the car a couple of km short of Princes Highway, on the way north
from Cape Conran.
- Rufous Fantail and Brown Gerygone along the
northern bit of the Casuarina Track in Mallacoota (a great little early
morning stroll; sadly, no Glossy Black-cockatoos, however).
- Eastern Whipbird in scrub next to Bunga Arm, Lakes
Entrance (beside the walking track running along the shoreline, next to the
caravan park) - not calling but very approachable - why couldn't his western
cousins in Lincoln National Park have been as willing to be looked at when I
was there in 1999?
- A few Little Penguins just outside the Lakes
Entrance bar and a Hooded Plover on the ocean beach just west of the entrance,
among a flock of drowsing Pacific Gulls.
I have also recently found a dead (presumably
road-killed) immature Collared Sparrowhawk next to Hall Road, Cranbourne, a
couple of hundred metres east of Westernport Highway. Again, the
square-tipped tail helped with ID, along with the thin toes, the central one
probably double the length of the others.
I saw a 4th year immature Pacific Gull (going by
Pizzey & Knight) at Stony Point south of Hastings, a couple of weeks back,
on sea-grass flats exposed by low tide, attack and eventually subdue a
dark-greenish eel around 40-50 cm in length. It took several quite violent
jabs of that massive beak before it managed to get the purchase it wanted,
worked the prey around to face down the gullet, then completed the job with four
determined swallows. After each swallow a bit less of the eel, still
squirming, hung out the side of the beak. Once it was all gone the gull
stood somewhat pensively for the next few minutes, every so often giving a bit
of a shudder and turn of the head. Within ten minutes, however, it was
chasing (on foot) an Australian White Ibis that had found a small fish, perhaps
6-8 cm in length. Greed (not to say gluttony) is alive and well in our
gull population. If Kelp Gulls can displace Pacific Gulls, they must be
Good Easter birding.