Contact with the colonies

Black-faced cormorants.

I’VE had a few highlights over the past few weeks.
I ventured to Mud Island with the Bellarine Birdlife Group, via Pope’s Eye and Chinaman’s Hat – which was, as always, a fantastic day out.
At Pope’s Eye there were young gannets and a few black-faced cormorants which are always beautiful photographic subjects. We only saw 19 species of birds for the whole day, but on Mud Island there were massive colonies of silver gulls, crested tern, straw-necked ibis, white ibis and Caspian tern, complete with many young chicks.
The most unusual sight was the presence of a yellow-faced honeyeater on one of the flowering shrubs on the beach.
On the trip back to Queenscliff we saw banjo sharks and starfish and a pod of dolphins. A perfect end to a great day.
My other highlight was participating in the 2016 Hooded Plover Biennial Count. I walked with Warren from Barwon Coast, from 6W to the Barwon Heads Bridge. We saw evidence of hooded plover activity near 6W in the dunes, but did not spot one hooded plover. In fact there were not many birds at all, probably because of the huge number of people and dogs inhabiting the beach.
I have since read that there are five breeding pairs of hooded plovers along the stretch of coast between Point Lonsdale and Ocean Grove, so dog walkers will soon be greeted by fenced off areas and volunteers helping the little chicks cope with the traffic along the beach.
I did manage a walk around Blue Waters Lake in Ocean Grove, where I spotted a few Eurasian coot chicks with their parent birds. The young birds were quite different in colour to the parent birds, which are black with a white beak and forehead. The chicks have downy black and yellow feathers and they have an orange-red head and a red bill. I didn’t spot the Eurasian boot’s nest at BWL, so I’ll have to take more notice next spring!
I received a lovely email from Roy, from St Leonards, who described his favourite bird as being a song thrush, which is a bird that was introduced to Melbourne in the 1860s from Eurasia. I told Roy that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a song thrush, and apparently they are becoming very uncommon.
I checked out the call of a song thrush and it’s very beautiful, and I most definitely have never heard or seen one.
I also received an email from Kevin who has been checking out the small flock of around six ruddy turnstones that have been feeding at low tide around the St Leonards pier. Thanks so much for the lovely emails and photos from Kevin, they are much appreciated.
Chris and Pete have young kookaburras in their nest in their garden in Woodlands. I can’t wait to see the fledglings.
Have a lovely few weeks before the weather becomes hot hot hot!
– Jen Carr,