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Queenscliffe Herald Article - December 2006

Bird Watching in Queenscliff

By Denise Moore
Swan Bay Environment Association

Bird watching is pursued by young and old. It is pursued in city and country, mountains and desert, oceans and beaches. I pursue this most enjoyable interest in Queenscliff and environs.

Swan Bay dominates Queenscliff to the north of the township. The walking track along its shoreline is good for bird watching. The birds of Swan Bay vary in species and numbers depending on conditions, such as weather and seasons, but a walk along the track on a perfect day and at the right time will be worthwhile for a bird watcher. Chestnut-teal Ducks hug the shoreline, the male so distinctive with his glossy green head and white marking on his flank. Little Pied Cormorants, when not swimming and diving, perch on the posts out from shoreline resting or drying their wings. Royal Spoonbills, tall white plumaged birds, have a long black bill with a wide flat tip with which they sweep the shallows in search of food.

Luck plays a part in bird watching and if it goes your way you may look up at the moment Eastern Curlews are flying along the Bay. These migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere have a long down curved bill. They arrive here October/November and return to Russian breeding grounds in March/April.

Lake Victoria, the largest body of water in the Lonsdale Lakes complex is a good food source for the three common species of migratory birds, Red-neck Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper. They work their way along the muddy shoreline building up their fat reserves for the return flight to breeding grounds in Siberia. A migrant from New Zealand, the Double-banded Plover, arrives here in February/March to overwinter before returning for breeding in August. Other Plovers, such as the Red-capped Plover, can be observed scurrying along the shoreline. They nest in a small scrap amongst the shingles. I have experienced great joy seeing fluffy balls racing along the shore in pursuit of their mother.

Bad weather can be a plus for a bird watcher especially when watching Albatross. When the wintery winds are icy and gale force go to the Rip Lookout and thrill to the soaring flight of Black-browed Albatross or effortless flight of Shy Albatross.

These birds are but a few that can be found in Queenscliff, but I cannot conclude without mentioning the two most important birds in the area. Firstly the Orange-bellied Parrot which I hope continues to be observed, though numbers are so small, amongst the salt marsh of Swan Island on its annual visit from Tasmania. The other is the Hooded Plover, whose numbers are threatened due to failed nesting. If they would only choose a more suitable site, but they will nest in the surf beach dunes, where people, dogs, foxes and predatory birds are their main threat.

Why would I want to live anywhere else but Queenscliff where I can pursue my interest-bird watching.

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