Great Billed Heron update

Subject: Great Billed Heron update
From: Mangrove Man Tours <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 07:10:46 +1000
Tropical greetings to all,
I am a new subscriber to the list and I think it is a wonderful idea. Now from the comfort of my home I can be kept informed of sightings around Aus. I would also like to give some information about some of the birds in my local area of Mossman, Far North Qld.
Lately I have been lucky enough to have had a great billed heron juvenile located on the Mossman River. I started seeing it regularly about six weeks ago and according to John Young it was probably out of the nest for a month to six weeks before we saw it. John got some good footage of the bird and it will be aired in August for anyone that gets John's segment on TV.
Recently both adult birds have been in the same area as the juvenile ( two days ago we had all three birds within 15 metres of the boat), but before that the juvenile led a strangely solitary existence.
I spent two full days with the juvenile a couple of weeks ago and it did not much for the whole day. Late in the afternoon on both days one of the adults came back and fed it a fish. From the looks of it, the fish was not very big. The begging behaviour was also interesting to watch. The juvenile spreads its wings and lowers its head and clacks its beak. As the parent approaches the juvenile clacks its beak on the parent's beak to stimulate regurgitation. The passover of the food is quite rapid and the young one then throws its head into the air, which may be to make swallowing easier.
All in all it only takes a couple of minutes and then its back to the solitary life for the juvenile. Unfortunately on both occasions I was unable to see if the three spent the night in the same area, or if they separated again.
I am also finding that the juvenile is easier to approach on overcast or showery mornings. This is purely a feeling as I have not recorded the number of times it flies before it feels comfortable enough to wait while we get a look at it. Certainly on some mornings it seems quite at home sitting low to the water and at other times it heads to a favourite perch higher in the forest.
I would also be interested to hear from other people who have seen White-bellied Sea Eagles store food. The other day a nesting Sea Eagle flew into a tree top, picked up a dead fruit bat, then took it only a couple of kilometres back to the nesting tree. I have not witnessed this before and was wondering if it is common behaviour.
Peter Cooper
Mangrove Man Tours
0740 982 066
0409 982 066
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