It's certainly a good year for egrets, herons and spoonbills. Birders
around this part of Victoria recorded White-necked Heron in many places
late last year, and now it's Great and Little Egrets that are appearing in
larger numbers than usual. Great Egret is a bird you can often see in ones
and twos in the larger wetlands of the Geelong region. In recent years they
have been hard to find in some of the reliable spots. This summer, they are
not only back at all the usual spots, but are appearing in numbers of 20 or
more on the larger wetlands like Reedy Lake, Lake Victoria or the Barwon
Estuary. They are also seen daily on smaller spots like Begola Wetlands in
Ocean Grove, and Balyang, beside the Barwon River in Newtown.
Little Egrets also seem to have expanded beyond their small number of
reliable spots. Lake Victoria near Point Lonsdale has several dozen Little
Egrets, with groups of 4-10 dotted around the shoreline.
Nankeen Night Herons have always been easy enough to find at Buckleys
Falls, in Eastern Gardens, and a few other spots. This year they seem to be
more widespread - I've seen them in the middle of the day near the Ocean
Grove Golf Club (beside Barwon estuary), Begola Wetlands, Lake Lorne in
Drysdale, and along the creek at Breamlea.
Both Spoonbill species are usually seen in good numbers around the
Bellarine Peninsula. This year, Yellow-billed seem to be in the expected
places, but I've observed small groups of Royals in every wetland I've
visited - I can't think of any suitable habitat that I've been to this
month that doesn't have a few Royal Spoonbills.
Are other observers noticing similar increases around the country - or just
in the south-east? Has the good spring in SE Australia resulted in a
population surge of these and other waterbirds? Do most waterbird species
seem to have done well, or are there some species that have disappeared
from the usual spots? There are reports that Silver Gulls have not bred on
the islands in Port Philip this year. Are all these things related? It's
fascinating to note the changes in an area from year to year!
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