Short-tailed Shearwaters, also known as Mutton Birds, have been dying in their thousands, and are being washed up along the coastlines of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Large wrecks of birds have been reported from many beaches, including our local ones. The Short-tailed Shearwaters migrate from the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Japan, and every year, several million birds embark on a journey of about 10,000 kilometres to Australian shores, arriving in late September to rest prior to the breeding season.
Many of the birds don’t make it. They are weakened by the journey, and are washed up onto the beach exhausted or dying. It is normal for wrecks to occur every ten years or so, because of storms or starvation, however major wrecks have occurred every second year since 2007, which indicates there may be a wider problem. One of our ANGAIR members reported seeing several birds at both Anglesea beach and Point Roadknight. She also saw a number of birds making their way from the beach, along the track towards the cliffs. In the same general area, there was a juvenile seal on the eastern side of the Anglesea River.
The Peregrine Falcon breeding season at Alcoa has ended without success. The female (Ava) elected to return to the coal bunker ledge, which she used during previous nesting attempts in 2010 and 2011. She laid two eggs, with one chick hatching, although it did not appear to be very strong. Neither the chick nor the second egg survived.
Also, at Point Addis, in mid-November, Victor Hurley abseiled over the cliff to a nest which contained three peregrine chicks. He carried out health checks before tagging each chick with a small plastic band on its leg. He has visited 30 nests so far this breeding season, and has found that population numbers of the once rare bird were booming.
In Anglesea, near Kuarka Dorla, one of our ANGAIR members watched, with interest, a Satin Bowerbird repeatedly picking flowers from a Kangaroo Paw plant, then flying away with the flower. As this took place during the breeding season, it was quite probably being used for nest lining.
A Brush Cuckoo was heard calling in Anglesea Heath at Gum Flat. It is an unusual visitor to this area. This bird is slightly smaller than the more commonly heard and seen Fan-tailed Cuckoo, and has a dull, grey-brown back and buff-coloured front, and slightly squarer tail. They perch in leafy trees, and take insects in the foliage or on the ground. The breeding season is from October to February and they lay 1 egg and deposit it in a nest which could belong to a Robin, Flycatcher, Fantail, Honeyeater, Fairy Wren or Scrubwren.
With the summer weather arriving soon, it is a good idea to provide water points in the garden. Birdbaths, filled daily with fresh water, will attract many birds to your garden. I also leave a shallow container on the ground filled with water for possums and lizards.