A bird count at Lake Wendouree detected an average number of black swans and an unexpectedly high number of black ducks.
Swan numbers are now 113, up slightly from a December count.
Black ducks always increase over summer, but their current total of 605 is considerably higher than expected, and possibly the highest ever recorded at Lake Wendouree.
At first glance their abundance is not obvious, with small groups scattered all around the shore, and others out in the centre. Those numerous small groups add up to a surprisingly high total.
At the same time last year there were 350, while five years ago there were just 57.
Their current abundance probably reflects the lack of water throughout the region.
The coot is normally the most numerous bird on Lake Wendouree. This year’s population is 1355, many fewer than the 3000 of five years ago but more than last year’s 980. Last December’s total was 937. After a busy breeding season, white ibises have gone. None were seen during the count at the end of February, nor could any be found a few days later.
Their current location is unknown, but they will no doubt return in winter.
Pelicans seem to have departed too, after a long stay at the lake. A few months ago there were a dozen of them present, but no longer.
Purple swamphens and dusky moorhens are scarcer than in some years.
All three species of grebes are scarce too, with just four great crested grebes being seen, and only five hoary-headed grebes.
Freckled ducks are still present and blue-billed ducks are currently hard to find – as they were 12 months ago. Musk ducks – at 24 – are more numerous than they were last year.
At 88, there are 60 more little pied cormorants than there were in December.
Just one whiskered tern – an immature bird – was found during the count.
In early December, there were 200. This species normally departs in summer – none were seen 12 months ago.
Notably fewer starlings, sparrows, magpies and red wattlebirds are present now, compared to last December, but welcome swallows were numerous – 310 of them.
They took to the air in a large, loose flock when a hawk disturbed them from the central reedy islands.
There is only one sort of geebung plant found in the Ballarat district – the dwarf geebung (Persoonia chamaepeuce).
It is uncommon locally, so recent discoveries in Woowookarung Regional Park at Canadian, and at Nerrina, have been pleasing.