Leaf-curling Spiders Phonognatha graeffei are most commonly seen in summer and lately I have noticed quite a few in the garden.

Quite often, I accidentally walk through the long threads of web connecting bushes or branches. The curled up leaf, which contains the spider is suspended in the centre of the web. This hiding place protects it from predators as it lays in wait for insects.

Earlier last month, Peter Forster discovered the body of an albatross washed up onto a beach at Anglesea. It had clearly been dead for sometime; however a large fish hook was found to be attached to its foot. Although we don’t know the cause of death, there is no doubt that the hook would have had some effect on the bird’s normal behaviour. This is another example of the damage to marine life caused by discarded items.

Jane Shennan had a wonderful sighting of a Sea-Eagle while she was at Pt Addis. It apparently flew up from the Bells Beach side of the Point pursued by gulls, then hung in the air over the carpark before heading off towards Eumeralla. It is always a thrill to see these majestic birds in flight.

Parks Victoria staff are starting to report seeing wildlife moving back into the burnt areas around Wye River, swamp wallabies and koalas in particular. Robins have also returned for the winter months and look beautiful contrasted against the blackened areas. The tree ferns have greened up already and most of the gums are showing evidence of reshooting. The recent rain has helped the recovery process.

A member of the Melbourne Zoo Marine Response Unit alerted rangers Emma Danby and Craig Hobbs when a Little Penguin was found on busy beach at Fairhaven. Because it was moulting, it didn’t have waterproof feathers, was wet and cold and also at risk from dogs and people on the beach. It was decided to take the bird to a wildlife centre for rest and safety until moulting is complete and it can then be returned to the sea.

Little Penguin
Little Penguin

Margaret MacDonald has provided this summary of the Hooded Plover breeding season:

The Hooded Plovers’ season on the Surf Coast has resulted in four juvenile birds: one at Whites Beach in Torquay, one at the tip of Pt Roadknight and one to the west of the tip. One bird fledged at Guvvos beach within the Great Otway National Park. Visitors have observed the young birds staying near to their parents at this time.

It would seem that the Moggs Creek birds (OM/RW and his new partner) may have decided that they will not try again, having lost three lots of eggs. The first eggs were laid in late September and we believe were taken by predator birds after two eggs had been laid. The third egg was found on the beach and the parents incubated it with one small chick hatching on November 1. Unfortunately this chick only survived one day. In late November they tried again, only to have their two eggs washed out by the tides. Their next attempt was in mid December with the eggs due to hatch on January 15. Unfortunately a fox took the eggs on January 9, leaving fox prints visible all around the scrape! Luckily the adult birds escaped. Since then the two adult hoodies have been seen most days just east of the estuary but who can blame them for not trying again. It's not an easy life for a Hooded Plover.

Sanderling Calidris alba has been observed regularly keeping company with the Hooded Plovers at Moggs Creek. It’s interesting to realise that when Sanderlings do leave these shores, usually in large groups in April, they migrate to the high arctic tundra regions. It seems an amazing feat of endurance for these small waders.

Kaye Traynor

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