Monday, December 19, 2011

Season's Greetings

                                   Have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year

 I recently photographed this Australasian Grebe on a small farm dam. These grebes have made a slow and sustained increase in numbers over the last 30 or so years, thanks largely to the increase in water storages on many farms in the east and south-east of Tasmania. Unlike their near relatives, the Hoary-headed Grebe, which are usually found on large bodies of water and in flocks sometimes numbering in the hundreds, this grebe is more likely to be met with in pairs or small groups on small water storages--the largest group I've seen in Tasmania totalled only 5.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Victorian Visitor......Pied Oystercatcher

 I stopped off briefly at Lauderdale Spit recently en route to Pipeclay Lagoon. It's become almost a ritual and I rarely spend more than a few minutes scanning the waders, gulls and terns from a 'respectful' distance. I noted the Pied Oystercatcher roost still consisted of 200 or more birds, a seemingly large number during the breeding season. As I passed the resident pair near the highway, I could see they were becoming agitated by a third bird nearby. I stopped to watch and as the 'interloper' closed on them, one of the pair proceeded to 'dive-bomb' it. It ran off through the shallow water, and as it did I noticed it appeared to be banded.
This wasn't unusual as many Pied Oystercatchers have been colour-banded in southern Tasmania over the years, and subsequent sightings have delivered a large amount of useful information.. I often photograph them for later identification if I can do that without unduly disturbing the roosts. I walked out into the water and slowly moved the 'intruder' onto the beach a few metres away. As you can see from the accompanying image, the oystercatcher didn't sport colour bands, but a yellow 'flag' with "8D" on it. From the flagging protocols, this bird was so marked at Corner Inlet in Victoria, around 470kms away. I'm still waiting for additional information as to when it was originally caught. From local banding efforts it appears that few of 'our' oystercatchers stray outside of the Derwent and Pittwater areas, so one wonders what drives a few to travel hundreds of kilometres.
This Victorian bird was showing interest in one of the resident pair I mentioned earlier, and one could fantasise that the journey was as a result of unrequited love. But I'm sure I'll be taken to task for even jokingly suggesting it!!
 Finally received the banding information on this bird. Originally banded at Barry Beach, Corner Inlet, Victoria on 13 August 2006, aged 4. Now 10 years old.