Pied Heron at Bairnsdale

To: "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Sean Dooley" <>, "Bill Ramsay" <>, "Stuart Cooney" <>, "Tim Dolby" <>
Subject: Pied Heron at Bairnsdale
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 14:47:25 -0800
To save time, I copy below my diary notes.
   Found by Jim Reside towards the southern end of McLeod's Morass adjacent
to a picnic area 500 m north of the 'Girl Guides Tree Plantation' on the
west side of the Bairnsdale to Paynesville road on 18 March 2005. This area
is behind a sign in a paddock proclaiming 'Captain Cook's Plantation'.
Access is about 7 km south of Bairnsdale via a track with a gateless
entrance emblazoned with several signs. The most obvious is orange reading
'Environmental work IN PROGRESS'. Jim had seen the bird at this spot several
times up until 24 March when he informed Andrew Silcocks at BA headquarters.
I was advised, and after making further enquiries with Jim and informing
local observers, set off that evening to twitch it next day.
Early next morning, 25 March, it was not where Jim had seen it. Although
many birds were flying overhead, few were on the ground and none of the
White-faced Herons with which it had been consorting. This was because three
wildfowlers, shooting ducks nearby, were creating a huge disturbance! I was
walking around the edge of the swamp when a compact flock of 25 White-faced
Herons rose temporarily from an area about 500 m further north. The Pied
Heron was with them. My 450th Victorian bird! I returned to my car and drove
a further 1 km to the termination of the track. From here I stumbled over
rough ground to the water and then paddled 300 m south where I obtained
several flight views and some brief scoped views of it on the ground in
direct sunshine at a distance of c.150 m. The Herons, like all birds at the
wetland, were very jumpy and soon flew to an inaccessible area to the south
and west. But it returned later, being seen in the same area that evening by
Ken Sherring and Peter Lansley.
It is an adult in full breeding plumage. It is slightly smaller than the
accompanying White-faced Herons. The whole of the neck and cheeks are white,
with the whole body, above and below, slaty-black. The crown from forehead
to the nape extending to below eye-level is also slaty-black as is a long
shaggy crest reaching to the lower neck. Lower white neck plumes were just
noticeable. The bill and legs are bright yellow.
This is only the second Victorian record and the most southerly ever!

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136

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