Phillip Is., Kilcunda, the Gurdies TRIP REPORT

Subject: Phillip Is., Kilcunda, the Gurdies TRIP REPORT
From: (Scott Chandry)
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 12:48:57 +0000 (MUT)
Hello all,

Myself and John Boyce went down to Philip Is. Victoria (south east of 
Melbourne) this weekend and saw a few interesting things and some very 
disturbing things.  We stayed near Summerland beach where we got excellent 
looks during the day at a young distressed short-tailed shearwater out in the 
surf.  We also saw sooty oystercatcher and hooded dotterel along the beach.  
John knows this area very well and has observed successful nesting on 
Summerland beach for many years.  This year either the conservation dept. or 
Penguin reserve personnel intervened in the dotterel nest and they covered it 
with a large "protective" wire fence.  This was probably meant to protect the 
birds from fox predation, the area having a very high fox population which 
the Penguin Parade personnel are trying to eradicate (very unsuccessfully by 
the number of tracks we saw).  This appears to have caused the birds which 
are still present to abandon the nest.  John's mother observed the birds 
exiting the box once but while we were there over the weekend we never saw 
them go near the eggs and they are now almost totally covered in sand with no 
recent tracks around them.   On Saturday the eggs went unattended for several 
hours while we watched from a distance, never once being shaded from the sun. 
 I think this apparatus protected  the eggs so well that even the parents 
didn't want to go near them.  Another possibility is that the cage brought 
unnecessary attention from beachgoers who would not have normally seen a 
dotterels nest.   Has anyone else heard of such a technique to protect a 
wader nest?
        Unfortunately, we observed something even worse over the weekend.  
There has been lots of construction occurring at the Penguin Parade building 
which is being expanded.  Residents have observed that penguins have been 
trapped by unfenced pits created by excavators.  In general the construction 
sites are quite sloppy for being in a wildlife preserve.  On Sunday morning 
as we were heading down to the beach we found a distressed and very bloody 
penguin caught on a string line near the construction.  The very taught 
string was carelessly placed at the right height to catch the penguins wing 
ring.  It clearly spent the night struggling and partially pulled its ring 
off and cut itself.    Had the line simply been a few centimetres higher in 
would not have affected the penguins at all (very careless!).  We freed the 
penguin and returned it to P. parade staff.
        On the way back home to Melbourne I stopped at the heath near the 
mouth of the Powlett river east of Kilcunda.  This area was loaded with 
Blue-winged parrots which were flushing constantly as I walked.  There were 
also huge numbers of pipits and clamorous reed warblers.  Unusually I also 
saw two Japanese Snipe in the dry heath quite a distance away from the river.
        Another stop was at the Gurdies which was very quiet except for the 
entrance which has both grey and rufous fantail, yellow robin, brown 
thornbill, rufous whistler, and white throated treecreeper.

P. Scott Chandry


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