A look at Lake Wendouree's birds last weekend revealed a lot of empty water, with just a few swans, great crested grebes and musk ducks.
The usual coots - often in hundreds and sometimes more than a thousand - have largely departed. Hoary-headed grebes have gone too.
The coots have likely moved off to breed. Coots do not commonly nest in any number at Lake Wendouree, preferring well-vegetated, deeper farm dams and freshwater wetlands.
We noticed a couple of nesting pairs on dams in the Glenbrae area earlier this month. They are probably nesting in isolated pairs across western Victoria at present.
For some reason, they seldom use Lake Wendouree as a nesting spot. Rarely more than four or five broods are seen there in a summer. Often there are none.
Although 76 coots were counted a week ago, this total is well below the several hundred or up to a thousand or more normally recorded at this time of the year.
The remaining coots would be non-breeding birds. Coots do not breed until they are two or more years old.
For some reason, most of the usual non-breeding coots that often remain at Lake Wendouree for summer have gone too.
The noticeable exodus of coots - usually the lake's most common bird - is not unprecedented, although it has not happened since the lake refilled in 2011.
The reason for the departure of hoary-headed grebes is probably the same - they have gone to nest elsewhere - probably in a recently-flooded wetland somewhere on the inland side of the Great Dividing Range. Unlike the coot, the hoary-headed grebe breeds in colonies.
Most, or possibly all, of the few freckled ducks have now left the lake too.
Up to a dozen or 20 of these rare ducks have been present for several years. The males had gained the red beak base - typical of breeding plumage - before they left.
One of our larger orchids in the spider-orchid group is known as the large green-comb spider-orchid, or mantis orchid. A feature is its mobile "tongue", which blows readily in a breeze.
This tongue or "labellum" has a "comb" of lime-green teeth along each side, as well as a maroon tip and a white base. The long dangling sepals and petals are green, with a red central stripe.
We have a similar but smaller and earlier-flowering spider-orchid locally, known as the small spider-orchid (Caladenia parva).
Most of its flowers have finished by November, whereas the mantis orchid is still flowering in the middle of the month.