In the Ballarat district, we have two species of white cockatoos known as corellas.
The more common one is the long-billed corella, and the scarcer one is the little corella.
In recent summers, we have been visited by increasing numbers of little corellas.
The first local report this year was in the middle of this month, when a few were found in flocks of long-billed corellas at Learmonth. Since then, they have been seen at Lake Wendouree as well.
The little corella is a very common bird of inland and northern Australia, but its occurrence south of the Great Dividing Range has been relatively recent, and its regular annual appearances here are more recent still. It is only now that we can confidently expect them locally each summer.
And it is only from this year that we can say that the time of their annual summer appearance is from mid-December.
The little corella has an obvious affinity to water. As well as at lakes Learmonth and Wendouree, it has also been seen in recent years near Lake Burrumbeet, and around Allendale and Clunes.
In most cases here, it is found mixed in with flocks of long-billed corellas, but occasionally a separate flock might be seen, especially later in summer as its numbers increase.
The little corella is only slightly smaller than the long-billed corella, but its size is not a useful identification feature. More useful clues are its small erect crest, and its lack of pink or red on the face and chest. Also, it is a cleaner white bird, its bill is smaller, and it has a stronger yellow tinge under its wings and tail.
Its calls are similar to those of the long-billed corella, but slightly different, especially in its diagnostic short wailing note.
The rain of a week ago caused a rise in the number of calling frogs, with several people commenting on the noticeable calling when the ground was wet and ponds and puddles were full.
One of the more noticeable calls was that of the eastern banjo frog, with its oft-repeated, single explosive “bonk”.
Common froglets were reported in several places, as well as spotted marsh frog.
From Invermay came a report of a groaning noise that was probably a growling grass frog, although only part of the several-part call was heard.
Despite these recent reports, local frog man, Ray Draper, reports that the breeding season for frogs has generally been unsuccessful, with fewer frogs’ eggs and tadpoles seen in spring, which was drier than average.