Over the years, Lake Wendouree has gained several new species of waterbirds.
A recent Lake Wendouree bird count found 19 species of waterbirds, which is a contrast to just 11 species counted in July 1971.
Two of the most obvious extras are white ibis and wood duck, both always present now, but unknown at the lake 50 years ago.
The current Lake Wendouree swan population is now at 88, which is almost equal to the rather low total of 86 at the end of February. Fifty years ago, the total was 172, with numerous rises and falls in the intervening period.
Despite an apparent slight increase in May, numbers of musk ducks are low too. Only 14 were counted, compared with 24 at the end of February.
Black ducks have increased since the 1970s. Although only 23 were counted this month, there were 125 in February. A reduction in winter is normal. The 1971 count was just three birds. However, a July 2005 count - with the lake water receding - was 195.
Numbers of coots vary from year to year and season to season. The current population at Lake Wendouree is 745, which is 400 more than five months ago, and 300 more than in July 1971.
Thirty-three wood ducks were counted earlier this week, compared with 86 at the end of February. Winter numbers are normally lower than those of summer.
Three nankeen night-herons were found recently. This bird was once very rarely seen in winter, but can now be present in small numbers at any time of the year.
Dusky moorhens were much more numerous 50 years ago, with 175 counted, compared to 49 now. Their numbers are usually fewer than 80. Thirty-one were counted last February.
As well as some extra waterbirds, there are others such as rainbow lorikeet, long-billed corella, sulphur-crested cockatoo, pied currawong and crested pigeon regularly found now, but all of these were unknown at the lake 50 years ago.
A surprising reduction over the years is the blackbird total, with just four this year, but 32 in July 1971. Totals of blackbirds have been fewer than 10 birds for several years. Sparrows and starlings have become scarcer too. Red wattlebirds, on the other hand, have increased, with one seen in July 1971 and 14 now.
One of the birds found at Newstead during a May outing of local bird observers was the southern whiteface, now scarce in the Ballarat region but still surviving in districts to the north.
It is a rather plain little brown bird with a white forehead.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
Here are some photos of beautiful purple fungi. Do they have a name, they are very small.
These beautiful fungi are rose-pink waxcaps.
Their colour is unusual among fungi, and has been described as "one of the most beautiful and rare colours".
They grow on the ground among native grasses, which matches your photos.
Sometimes they are under trees, but they grow in native grassland as well.
They can be found from autumn through until spring.
They are small fungi, growing up to 50 mm across and are often funnel-shaped.
The gills underneath are thick and widely-spaced, extending part-way down the stem.
This fungus is sometimes described as rare, so your discovery of a colony of 15 or more is rather special.
Your mid-June photos seem to show them in peak condition.
Hygrocybe cheelii is the scientific name of this rose-pink waxcap fungus.
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