birding-aus Magpie Geese in Victoria (Aust.)

Subject: birding-aus Magpie Geese in Victoria (Aust.)
From: "Martin O'Brien"<>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 14:22:36 +1000

Tim Dolby asks about the significance of the Magpie Goose sighting at
Braeside, a south-eastern suburb of Melbourne, Victoria.

What was previously known as the Semipalmated Goose (Anseranas semipalmata)
used to occur in "incalcuable numbers" in western Victoria by Broinowski in
the 1880s (Birds and Mammals of Australia 1885).  He noted that

"...the flesh of the semipalmated goose is dark in colour, and rather dry,
but when cooked properly is quite a delicay.  Great numbers of these birds
are consumed by the inhabitatnts of the towns and cities in Australia,
especially Melbourne, where the birds are obtained fresh from Gippsland by
railway, and can be bought at the low price of half-a-crown apiece".

How things have changed!  The species is now recognised as "insufficiently
known" in the 1995 publication listing threatened status of vertebrates in
Victoria and I haven't heard of anyone eating them in southern Australia
although I believe aborigines in northern Australia still consume these

The Atlas of Victorian Wildlife shows that there are still regular reports
of the goose, mainly from western Victoria but also from the Gippsland
Lakes area in recent years.  Many of these are likely to be liberations
from Serendip Research Station west of Melbourne or Tower Hill reserve near
Koroit.  For the Mornington Peninsula se of Melbourne the database has no
records for Braeside or around Frankston further south (observers please
note!).  The species is most commonly encountered in the western lakes near
Colac and south of the Grampians (near its historical stronghold for
Victoria) as well as Tower Hill in the far south west.  Most records of any
numbers are from around Lake Elingamite where the largest ever recorded
flock of about 600 birds was noted in 1995.  The species occurs irregularly
at other wetlands from time to time and the Braeside bird is an example.
There are probably only about 700 Magpie Goose in Victoria and many of
these are liberated birds from.  This number has probably been increased by
an influx birds from Bool Lagoon in South Australia after a drought year in
that wetland during 1994-5.

I encourage all observers in Victoria to pass on their goose sightings to
the relevant fauna database so the movements and status of these birds can
be more fully understood.

Martin O'Brien
Executive Scientific Officer
Scientific Advisory Committee
Threatened Species Program
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Pde.,
East Melbourne,  3002

tel: +61 3 9412 4567
fax: +61 3 9412 4586

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