|Subject:||Re: Cattle Egrets SE Melbourne increasing?|
|Date:||Mon, 4 Aug 2003 10:15:44 +1000|
Tim asked "an increase in numbers or perhaps them moving to a greener area because of the drought?"
I used to coordinate "Project Egret Watch" at the Shortland Wetlands Centre and can perhaps answer this question. I think you will find that the dry conditions are the primary reason for an increase in Cattle Egret numbers in the southern wintering areas.
I haven't had my finger on the egret pulse for a few years now so I haven't been following the weather systems as closely as I did ten years ago. What has this got to do with Cattle Egret numbers in Victoria? Well, Cattle Egret numbers in Victoria can be affected by conditions further north in NSW as well as the presence, or absence, of favourable weather conditions that allow Cattle Egrets to migrate to New Zealand. The number of egrets getting to NZ is influenced by weather conditions providing suitable conditions, ie westerly winds from Victoria and Tasmania, to aid the flight to NZ. Without these winds fewer egrets tend to attempt the passage across the Tasman and, hence, more egrets in Victoria.
The southern most regularly used Cattle Egret breeding colony was at Shortland Wetlands Centre in Newcastle. Another colony was used on several occasions at Dora Creek, just to the south of Nerwcastle and, from memory, several Cattle Egret also nested a couple of times at Toronto although this colony consisted primarily of Great Egrets. There are also records of Cattle Egrets breeding in inland colonies on the Murray but these are more or less breeding vagrants. In a nutshell, Newcastle is the southern breeding limit of Cattle Egret (or it was when I was in the job).
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