Nature Notes | Magpie geese gaggling at Lake Wendouree

The magpie goose was found across much of western Victoria in the early days of European settlement, but died out due to shooting and drainage and disturbance of nesting swamps. Now it is found mostly in northern Australia, where it is well-known to tourists in the Northern Territory.

GOOSE DOWN: Three of six magpie geese spotted at Lake Wendouree last weekend. They appeared to be wild birds. Picture: Ed Dunens.

GOOSE DOWN: Three of six magpie geese spotted at Lake Wendouree last weekend. They appeared to be wild birds. Picture: Ed Dunens.

Six magpie geese were last weekend seen at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree, but where had the birds come from?

They appeared to be wild, active and alert, with no sign of having been in captivity and probably moved here from Serendip Sanctuary, near Lara, where magpie geese have been bred for many years. A large population has built up there, and they are free to take off and move further if they wish.

Although once found in western Victoria – including Lake Wendouree -  magpie geese have retreated north as settlement has increased. The nearest northern Australian wild populations extend south to about Brisbane.

There are introduced populations in western Victoria. Tower Hill, near Warrnambool, for example, has had magpie geese for many years. Some of these birds have bred and spread to other western Victorian wetlands, with occasional reports of 100 or more birds.

There were seven magpie geese reported at Lake Wendouree in May 2012, and one in November 2015.

Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree attracts an impressive range of waterbirds. This month, for example, black-winged stilts, red-kneed dotterels, sharp-tailed sandpipers and red-capped plovers have been seen out in the central reed-bed islands. Unfortunately, these birds - like the magpie geese - cannot be seen from the shore.

Whiskered terns have recently returned to the lake, and a much scarcer Caspian tern was sighted there last weekend.

Mynas at Learmonth 

Ascot, Allendale, Broomfield, Glendonald and Clunes have all had sightings of common (Indian) mynas in recent years. Now this bird has been added to the Learmonth list, with a sighting of a pair a week ago.

An unconfirmed sighting of a single myna at Learmonth a few months ago has been confirmed by a clear sighting of a pair by Learmonth naturalist Fon Ryan.

Common mynas are well-known in Melbourne, but despite being often seen at the above places, guaranteed sightings are not certain – sometimes the birds are there, sometimes not. There seems to be a lot of toing and froing before mynas take up permanent residence.

There are frequent reports of mynas from the Daylesford area, as well as near Newstead.