Fraser Coast pelicans appear to have left the area, possibly in search of a food source.
Fraser Coast pelicans appear to have left the area, possibly in search of a food source.

Pelicans fly off to fertile lands

WHEN Vince Challenor used to walk along the Bay’s beaches, he would always see pelicans.

The Bay man and his partner took pleasure in regularly spotting sea birds on the stretch between Pialba and Urangan.

But for the last four or five months, Mr Challenor says, he has not seen one pelican on any of Hervey Bay’s beaches.

“There’s not a pelican down on the beach but they were always a tourist attraction,” Mr Challenor said.

“We’ve been looking every day but we haven’t seen one for the past four or five months.”

So where have they all gone?

Wildlife Preservation Society Fraser Coast president Cliff Greet believes there are several reasons for the disappearance of these waterbirds.

“There are three reasons,” Mr Greet said.

“The first one is that they will be going wherever the food goes.

“The second is that council actively discourages people from feeding them in this area.

“The third thing is that while the rivers are flowing toward Lake Eyre, they will head down there because that is their traditional breeding ground.

“It’s a peculiar Australian pelican thing.”

Local birdwatcher John Knight said that just last week he had seen about 130 pelicans congregated at a friend’s cattle property near River Heads.

The property has two lagoons, which is where the birds were seen to gather.

“A few days later, there were only half that,” Mr Knight said.

“Then this morning there were none.”

He said it was normal for birds to move around in search of food and said the Bay’s beaches might not be a rich source at present.

“They do move around, they go where the food is. All birds do that.

“Pelicans are such beautiful birds when they fly; they are so balanced. If you look at them on the ground they don’t look very graceful but they are very graceful birds in the air.”

Mr Knight said he knew the pelicans had migrated to Lake Eyre when it filled up last year but was not aware they were headed there again.

“When Lake Eyre filled about approximately six months ago, they disappeared from here and all went down there.

“But how do the birds know where to go?

“Nature is a wonderful thing.”

PELICAN FACTS

  • Pelicans live all over Australia, in areas with water
  • Their beaks have a small hook on the end and a stretching pouch underneath
  • When their wings are outstretched they measure over 2m across
  • Australian pelicans swim around searching for fish, yabbies and crabs to eat during the day
  • They trap the fish in their pouched beak and swallow them whole
  • Australian pelicans call with pig-like grunting sounds


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