Con is clearly a student of Gambusia, an interest I share, possibly the result of a shared tropical years. In Port Moresby, I think in the late 60s, I had
a large aquarium tank I kept stocked with local freshwater fish. These were obtained by having the warders pull a net through billabongs of the Laloki River that lay within the precincts of Bomana Corrective Institution. Gambusia were plentiful. Other exotics
include Three-spot Gourami and Tilapia that had bred down in size to less than 10cm (they were much larger in the Sepik). Being mouth-breeders, they were surrounded by a cloud of tiny fry if caught when a light was turned on at night. In a few minutes all
would have popped back into the distended mouth. Native fish included Rainbow Fish and Purple-spotted Gudgeon.
Common birds of Port Moresby gardens in the 60s and 70s:
Cuckoo-shrikes (Black-faced and White-bellied)
Mannikins (Chestnut-breasted and Grey-headed)
From: Con Boekel [
Sent: Thursday, 1 February 2018 5:09 PM
To: canberrabirds chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] Pelican feeding on Gambusia holbrooki
Mosquito fish Gambusia holbrooki are an introduced species. Although small, they are rated as a threatening process because of their predatory behaviour. The female may grow up to 40mm.
This morning at Kelly's a Pelican was actively fishing for around half an hour in very shallow water. For much of the time it could only fully inflate its lower beak with water by twisting its head sideways. At times it was possible to photograph the species
of fish being caught when the Pelican threw them upwards and towards the throat to swallow them. The only species that were identified were Gambusia. It is reasonably unlikely that the Pelican caught loach, carp or redfin during the half hour. The
Gambusia did not look very filling!
At times the Pelican captured plant detritus along with the fish. It was not possible to work out how the bird separated the plants from the fish before swallowing the latter.
The attached image has suffered as a result of the post-processing required to reduce the size to meet COG size limits.