Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wedgies and Wide beaches

  The recent King Tides have contributed to some fore-dune erosion at Beach One, exacerbated by the wide and mostly flat beach summer berm profile.

Meanwhile at Point Smythe a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles Aquila audax were observed patrolling at a very low altitude for birds with such keen eye-sight. Their sustenance consists predominantly of carrion, but rabbits, some marsupials and other birds can feature in their diet.
These two birds are more than 5+ years old, as attested by their dark colour. Younger birds are browner, progressively turning towards black as they age. In this photo the larger sized female is below her male.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shearwater Wreck

The Short-tailed Shearwater [Puffinus tenuirostris ] or mutton bird, has an amazing yearly migration, leaving our shore in autumn and flying to the waters off Siberia and Alaska before return to Australia in spring. Most of those coming along the beach at Venus Bay are returning to rockeries in Phillip Island, but there is also a big colony at Port Fairy. It is not uncommon for many of the birds to die of exhaustion during the migration, which leads to the phenomenon known as a shearwater wreck, where large numbers of dead birds are washed up on the beach.
The wreck of Short-tailed Shearwaters appears particularly abundant along the Australian coast this spring. The number of dead shearwaters lining the beaches seems to be higher and more widespread across the Australian coast, but unless we collect data and do this consistently, this is only an observation. With shearwaters representing the most globally abundant avian species, it becomes important to understand just how many die each season and what this means to overall numbers.
We would like to make a start toward greater understanding and to learn more about this year’s wreck in particular. It has been suggested that changes in food availability due to the warming of the oceans is taking its toll on these migratory seabirds.
As regular beach visitors, you can play a role in helping us learn more about this issue. Over time we can learn whether mortality rates vary from year to year and if these trends are consistent, and/or linked with any particular climatic events or food availability.
When you next take a walk on a beach (albeit to look for breeding resident shorebirds!), please record: date, time, beach name, location, distance walked (ideally the latitude and longitude of your starting and finishing point), number of dead and dying shearwaters.
Send this information in an email to: marked ‘shearwater wreck’ in the subject line.
…..  from a email request from Grainne Maguire, Birdlife Australia

Saturday, October 26, 2013

First Feathers

IMGP1864There where a lots of black feathers on the beach today, but no mutton bird carcasses. This possibly marks the return of the migrating shearwater (mutton birds). Let’s hope not as many perish this year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Koala Observer Training & Venus Bay Pipi Report available

For those interested in learning how to spot, monitor and help Koalas, South Gippsland Landcare is hosting a seminar at Ruby Hall on February the 27th at 6:30pm. Link below;

In other observing-related news, the latest report on the Stock Assessment of Venus Bay Pipis (2011) is released and available the DPI website, link below;

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hooked on Bidgee-Widgee

Bidgee-Widgee (Acaena novae-zelandiae) is a native ground-cover of Australia and New Zealand which is endemic to the Point Smythe area.
It is through the burrs produced in Summer which attach to socks, pants or shoelaces that most people realise they have had an interaction with Bidgee-Widgee, unwittingly drafted as agents of seed dispersal. Each seed has four spines which terminate in minute barbs that hook onto clothing or animal hair, similar plants overseas inspired the invention of hook & loop fasteners like Velcro.

It does play an important role in soil binding and erosion control, and is tolerant of a wide range of conditions from shade to full sun, wet to dry soils, making it worthy of consideration for the local home garden. So the next time Bidgee-Widgee covers your socks in burrs, look on the bright side that your socks have become a free packet of seed!