Pelicans are more obvious at Lake Wendouree now than they have been for many years.
Often the lake has none, or one or two, but up to ten were seen from the south shore recently. More were probably present in the centre and on the east and north sides.
Pelicans are highly mobile birds. They search out suitable areas of water and an adequate supply of food. Their main food is fish and the search for food is the main reason for their movements. At Lake Wendouree – as everywhere – they would be feeding on whatever fish are easiest to catch.
As inland wetlands dry up, the birds move towards the coast, or to larger waters such as our own district lakes. The Murray River is also a favourite place.
Pelican breeding colonies are relatively few nationwide. Most of them are on islands. They can be in far inland places, such as Lake Eyre, or on the coast. From these colonies they move great distances.
Pelicans are often recorded flying at 1000 metres high, with occasional reports of as high as 3000 metres (three kilometres) or more. They use thermal updrafts to make their flights easier, and they can fly more than 50 kilometres an hour.
For many years, pelicans were a rarity on Lake Wendouree, although fish populations then and now were probably similar. Perhaps the recent increase is related to the current inland drought.
Pelican numbers at Lake Wendouree are normally low. For the past 50 years there have seldom been more than 30 seen on the water at any one time. Sometimes more are seen flying over.
There is no regular movement to the lake. Whatever the reason for their relatively high current numbers, they seem content to remain. Stately on the water, and majestic in the air, they are certainly attracting attention from passers-by.
Pelicans are present in varying numbers for most of the year at Lake Burrumbeet. At times there have been more than 500 there. Seventy or more have recently been seen at the almost-dry Lake Learmonth, where they are no doubt finding easy pickings on the last remaining fish and eels.
“Like a blue thistle” is the usual description of a native grassland plant known as blue devil.
The impressive blue stems and globular prickly seed-heads of this perennial plant are now obvious in native grassland patches, including undisturbed roadsides.
It grows mostly on heavier soils and despite its appearance, this plant is classified in the parsley family.
Its early growth is green, becoming blue as it matures.