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On the weekend of 18 and 19 May, more than 50 observers on the Bellarine Peninsula volunteered to take part in the first Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) survey for 2014.

The results of the survey have been compiled. No OBPs were sighted in any of the areas surveyed, which was disappointing. However, four birds were observed on the western side of Port Phillip Bay, and many groups reported seeing reasonable numbers of Blue-winged Parrots.

The June edition of the Birdlife Australia’s newsletter, Word about the Hood, summarises results of the 2013–14 Hooded Plover breeding season. Success has been mixed, with a range of challenges, including particularly high tides and storm surges, as well as human pressures. The Mornington Peninsula fared badly this season. The west coast on the other hand has had one of the best seasons to date, with the coast between Warrnambool and Yambuk experiencing high chick survival, and chicks on the beach as late as mid April. On the Bellarine Peninsula, many chicks fledged, due to an incredible volunteer effort in areas from Point Lonsdale and Ocean Grove, and also, on the Surf Coast at Moggs Creek. Many new pairs of Hooded Plovers have set up territory on sites that haven’t been occupied for 10–15 years, which is an encouraging sign for the future.

Sharon from Ecologic has reported finding some beach-washed animals during the last couple of months:

  • Two Albatrosses, identified as Shy Albatrosses, were found on the beach at Moggs Creek.
  • A Whitely’s Skate (Raja whitleyi), measuring 1 m in length, was washed onto the beach at Fairhaven. This species of skate is reasonably common in shallow coastal waters of NSW, Vic and Tasmania. Skates are known by the flattened disc of the body, with a narrow tail and two small dorsal fins. Unlike stingrays and stingarees, skates have no venomous spines on their tails. Whitley’s Skate is also known as Melbourne Skate, and is the largest of the group.

Also at Fairhaven Beach, the Ecologic staff came across a Draughtboard Shark, otherwise known as a Swell Shark. These animals tend to inhabit the deeper waters, and are identifiable by the draughtboard pattern of irregular dark bars over the greyish-brown back.  Its defence against disturbance is to gulp great mouthfuls of water or air, inflating its stomach, similar to Toadfishes.  This behaviour leads to the other name of Swell Shark. They are harmless and grow to about 1.5 m.

In other sightings, two Royal Spinebills were seen at Coogoorah Park, and there has also been whale activity with sightings along the coast from Torquay to Apollo Bay.

A new email alert provided by Geelong Otway Tourism brings you instant updates on any sightings in the region. To register, go to:


E.M. Grant, R. 2008, Grant’s Guide to Fishes 11th edn, E.M. Grant Pty. Ltd. Scarborough, Qld.

Birdlife Australia, edn 11, June 2014 Word about the Hood: Biannual Newsletter of Birdlife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Program

Kaye Traynor