Three ANGAIR members spent the morning of 18 May on the Hospital Swamps area of Lake Connewarre for the May OBP count.
The wetlands were generally drier and we were able to walk across an area which is usually covered by water. We then followed a fence line and searched the saltmarsh for any OBPs. There was no sign of the birds, however we did see seven Blue Wing Parrots.
There has been some good news with recent sightings of a juvenile at West Gippsland, 2 adults near Warrnambool and a possible sighting on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.
As there are only 50 Orange-bellied Parrots left in the wild, Zoos Victoria have had a breeding program underway for the past 20 years. In the last breeding season a record number of 59 birds fledged. So far 244 birds have been released back into the wild to help rebuild the dwindling population.
It is planned to build a new free-flight aviary at Werribee Open Range Zoo within the next twelve months. The free-flight aviary will work as a type of pre-release gym to assist parrots chosen for release into the wild.
During the morning of the count, we did see nine different raptor species. We were fortunate to see so many, and the conditions were just right. Of particular interest, were two birds of prey, both uncommon visitors to this part of the world, the Black Falcon and the Spotted Harrier.
The Black Falcon was identified by the sooty brown colour, small head, broad pointed wings and long tail. It was flying low above the lignum bushes across the dry marshland, and while we were watching, it flew into a tree and after some time moved further away from us. Because Black Falcons tend to be nomadic, they are sometimes found in the southern coastal areas in the late summer-autumn.
The Spotted Harrier is also an occasional summer-autumn visitor to the coastal region but mostly it is found in the drier inland country. It is a very attractive bird, with a smoky grey head and back, a chestnut facial disc, and underparts, chestnut with white spots, a grey tail with bold black bands, and legs and eyes bright yellow.
The next OBP Count will be on Sunday, 28 July. Further details will be in next month’s newsletter.