Darters & gulls; A Day at the Beach

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Darters & gulls; A Day at the Beach
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 15:58:52 +1000
Yesterday, Monday, we headed for Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads (Vic).
First stop was Woodlands Drive in Ocean Grove to look for Scaly-breasted
Lorikeets. Scaly-breasted Lorikeets are not common in Vic but Woodlands
Drive is a known hotspot for them, but it takes some searching, not because
lorikeets are hard to find but because on Woodlands Drive crossbreeding of
lorikeets is rampant and the colour variations so created are startling. We
found Scaly x Rainbow x Little x Purple-crowned x and a few we could not
immediately recognise. If you ever want to see multiple variations upon a
lorikeet theme head for Woodlands Drive. How strange it is that this
apparently orgiastic cross breeding of lorikeets occurs in Woodlands Drive
but I don’t see it in other areas of Victoria. We did end up seeing one
Scaly-breasted that looked as though it had not been crossed with anything
so all was well.

Next stop was Point Lonsdale for some coast watching. There was not as much
wind as we had hoped for so the waves were small, and to make things
uncomfortable the occasional shower of light rain drifted through cutting
the visibility down and misting the scope lenses. Apart from the ever
reliable Shy and Black-browed Albatross the birding was quiet until the
tide went down and reefs came out from below the gentle ocean swell. We
then had Black-faced Cormorants, Crested Terns, Silver Gulls and Pacific
Gulls arrayed in front of us.

One particular Pacific Gull put on a wonderful show for us. He/she would
fly out to a partially submerged reef and collect a large periwinkle, then
carry it back to shore, rise up on the wind, then drop it to smash on the
rock platform below. He/she did this about six times and there was a
distinct pattern that ran; collect periwinkle, fly to shore and drop it on
rock platform, eat contents, wash bill in shallow rock pool, return to reef
for another periwinkle.

With lunch in mind we headed for the Barwon River boat ramp at Barwon
Heads. The sandbanks in the river had the normal ibis, herons, egrets,
pelicans and cormorants as well as a few Red-capped Plover, Red-necked
Stints and one Double-banded Plover. We then had a wonderful view of a
darter that surfaced with a very large fish maybe 30 cm long, probably a
mullet. The darter then tried to fly off but the fish was way too heavy. And
a second problem for the darter was that it had impaled the fish just in
front of the tail, so it wasn't even really holding it. The result was
first a staggering, tail slapping run across the surface of the river as it
tried to get airborne, then the bird’s head falling forward and the fish
sliding off. Finally the darter threw its head back in disgust and screamed
before it finally flew away up stream. Joy got very nice photos of the
event and I have put them on my blog.

I am sure the scream was in frustration that it had lost the biggest fish
it had ever caught, the ultimate fishing story! The boys on the sandbank
will never believe this darter's story about the one that got away; it will
hold its wings this [                             ] far apart and they will
all look, smile, shake their heads, and go, "oh right!, go on, tell us
another one" and go back to their beers (smile).



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