On Saturday I found myself on the Orange-bellied Parrot survey
at Lake Murdeduke near Winchelsea, about half-way between Geelong and Colac in
OBPs have never been recorded here, but there had been reports
of large flocks of Neophemas in the area recently and as OBPs have been on
the whole, mysteriously absent from their previous mainland wintering haunts,
they have to be somewhere.
Needless to say I did not have any luck with Orange-bellied
Parrot, but I did see over 130 Blue-winged Parrots in two large flocks. One
flock seen feeding in the short saltmarsh/grasses along the Southern edge
of Lake Murdeduke itself included a group of 26 feeding along the actual
shore line. Wind or wave action had left piles of tiny shells covering much
of the mudflat left by the retreating lake waters. The Blue-wingeds seemed to be
feeding amongst this jetsam. Perhaps there were seeds trapped amongst the
shell debris, the only time I could see what a bird was feeding on was
when one held a straw of something in its beak.
I'm pretty sure they weren't feeding on the actual shells
themselves but who knows, maybe this was nature's equivalent of a caged budgie's
nice bit of cuttlefish. Whatever the food source, it was a most remarkable sight
seeing these gorgeous parrots lined up on the shore line alongside Red-necked
Stints and Red-capped Plovers.
Other good birds on the lake were Great-crested Grebe,
Blue-billed Duck, and to top things off beautifully three Brolgas flew
in metres above my head, trumpeting as they landed and began feeding along
On the way back to Melbourne I made a brief stop to the Point
Wilson Road in a vain attempt to actually see an OBP. I did, however, see three
Stubble Quail in the same area as reported by Jacqui Sheperd the next day.
Perhaps an influx of this species may be on the way down