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A survey of Colonially-breeding Birds on Mud Islands, Port Phillip, Victoria; with an annotated list of all terrestrial vertebrates


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A Survey of Colonially-breeding Birds on Mud Islands, Port Phillip, Victoria; with an annotated list of all terrestrial vertebrates









P. Menkhorst



July 2010

















Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research

Technical Report Series Number 206









Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series Number 206

A Survey of Colonially-breeding Birds on Mud Islands, Port Phillip, Victoria, with an annotated list of all terrestrial vertebrates

Peter Menkhorst

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research
123 Brown Street, Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

July 2010





Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research
Department of Sustainability and Environment
Heidelberg, Victoria



Report produced by: Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research
Department of Sustainability and Environment
PO Box 137
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084
Phone (03) 9450 8600
Website: www.dse.vic.gov.au/ari

© State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009

This publication is copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical or graphic) without the prior written permission of the State of Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment. All requests and enquiries should be directed to the Customer Service Centre, 136 186 or email customer.service@dse.vic.gov.au

Citation: Menkhorst, P. (2010). A Survey of Colonially-breeding Birds on Mud Islands, Port Phillip, Victoria, with an annotated list of all terrestrial vertebrates. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series Number 2006. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria

ISBN 978-1-74242-779-9 (print)

ISBN 978-1-74242-780-5 (online)

Disclaimer: This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.

Front cover photo: Australian Pelican breeding colony, Mud Islands 13 July 2008 (photographer P. Menkhorst).

Authorised by: Victorian Government, Melbourne



Contents

List of tables and figures 3

Acknowledgements 5

Summary 6

1.1Location 7

1.2Geomorphology 7

1.3Vegetation 8

1.4Changes to Vegetation 9

1.5Land status 10

11

2Purpose and scope 13

2.1Objectives 13



3Methods 14

3.1Monitoring breeding birds by foot 14

3.2Monitoring breeding birds from the air 14

3.3Previous bird counts at Mud Islands 15

3.4Historical literature search 16

4Results 17

4.1Colonially-breeding birds, 2008-2010 17

4.1.1Australian Pelican 17

4.1.2Pied Cormorant 19

4.1.3Little Egret 20

4.1.4Straw-necked Ibis 20

4.1.5Australian White Ibis 21

4.1.6Royal Spoonbill 23

4.1.7Caspian Tern 23

4.1.8Crested Tern 24

4.1.9Silver Gull 25

4.1.10Summary of colonially-breeding birds 26

4.2Other breeding birds 26

4.3Non-breeding visitors 26

4.4Historical records 27

5Discussion 28

5.1Sources of error in population estimates 28

5.2Significance of Mud Islands for birds 28

5.2.1Waterbirds 29

5.2.2Shorebirds 29

5.2.3Seabirds 30

5.2.4Threatened Species 30

5.3Changes to the Bird Fauna 31

5.4Other terrestrial fauna 33

5.5History of bird study on Mud Islands 33



6Conclusions and Recommendations 34

7References 35

8Appendix 1 – Maps of breeding colonies 38

38

Appendix 2 - Annotated List of Species 41


List of tables and figures


List of tables

Table 1. Numbers of bird counts conducted by the author at Mud Islands per month before the present study and during the present study. 14

Table 2. Monthly distribution of nests with eggs (E), nests with nestlings (N) and crèches of juvenile Australian Pelicans (C), on Mud Islands between February 2008 and March 2010. See Map 2 for location of colonies. 18

Table 3. Monthly numbers of nests of the Australian Pelican on Mud Islands that contained eggs between February 2009 and April 2010 when counts were made. e – estimated. 18

Table 4. Summary of colonially-breeding birds at Mud Islands. 26

Table 5. Threatened species that utilize Mud Islands, excluding species recorded only once or twice. FFG – Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988; EPBC – Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; DSE – Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria 2007; f – listed under Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act; ce – critically endangered; e – endangered; v – vulnerable. 30

Table 6. Bird species that have declined in population number on Mud Islands since 1982 and possible reasons for the declines. 31

Table 7. Bird species that have increased in population number on Mud Islands since 1982 and possible reasons for the increases. 32

List of figures

Map 1. Aerial view of Mud Islands showing the major vegetation communities and place names used in the text. 9

Figure 1. Erosion of Leucopogon parviflorus scrub, Northern Island, 8 March 1964 (photographer F.T.H. Smith) 11

Figure 2. Herbfield on ‘the airstrip’, East Island, January 1972 (photographer T. Pescott). This area now carries a dense shrubland dominated by Atriplex cinerea and Lavatera plebia (Figure 3). 11

Figure 3. Dense shrubland dominated by Atriplex cinerea and Lavatera plebia which has replaced the open herbfield on ‘the airstrip’ (Figure 2), 20 June 2010 (photographer P. Menkhorst). 12

12

Figure 4. Shorebirds and shipping, Mud Islands, 22 February 2009 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 12

Figure 5. Example of aerial photograph used to estimate numbers of breeding ibis (photographer P. Menkhorst) 15

Figure 6. Nestling Pied Cormorants, East Island, 1 October 2009 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 19

Figure 7. Breeding Straw-necked Ibis, 13 September 2009 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 21

Figure 8. Nests of Australian White Ibis, 13 July 2008 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 22

Figure 9. Caspian Tern nest, Boatswain Island, 13 September 2009 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 24

Figure 10. Crested Terns nesting amongst Spinifex sericeus, 13 December 2009 (photographer P. Menkhorst) 25

25



Map 2. Locations of breeding colonies of Australian Pelican at Mud Islands, 2009-2010. 38

39

Map 3. Locations of breeding colonies of other colonially-breeding birds at Mud Islands, 2009-2010. 39

40

Map 4. Locations of ibis colonies at Mud Islands, 2009-2010. 40
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