Otway Coast Committee

Committed to Sustainable Management

14th Nov. 2013 - Apollo Bay Playground Funding, Shearwater breeding season has arrived

Apollo Bay Playground Funding

Local State government member Terry Mulder visited Apollo Bay last Friday to announce that a joint funding application by COS & OCC had been successful in receiving $60,000 of funding from the State government to replace practically all the playground equipment.  To ensure the success of the application both COS & the OCC have committed $30,000 each toward the project bringing the total project value to over $120,000 when 'in kind' input from the OCC is considered.

Work on the project is expected to start around the middle of 2014.

Shearwater breeding season has arrived

Shearwaters or 'Mutton Birds' as they are often called, have arrived at the Port Fairy breeding ground after completing their long migration south from wintering grounds in the northern Pacific.

DEPI Senior Biodiversity Officer Mandy Watson said:

"Shearwaters come in their thousands from the northern hemisphere summer feeding grounds off Alaska and Siberia.  For more than 35 years they have arrived at the same time within a few days, returning to the same burrow each time," Ms Watson said.

"They feed on fish and other seafood, tend to be more active at night, and generally mate with the same partner for life."

"After arriving, they clean out the burrows and mate, then the entire population flies off to sea for about two weeks before returning to lay eggs.  They lay one white egg that generally hatches in seven weeks."

"The journey here may not be successful for all the birds."

"Depending on available feed during the northern summer, birds may arrive underweight and exhausted.  This can result in dead or dying birds washing ashore in large numbers right along Victoria's coastline."

"Bad weather during their long flight can also increase the risk. Stormy weather and strong winds make it difficult for birds if they are already in poor condition from the long migration and this can be enough to cause their death."

"After the seven month breeding season the adult Shearwaters leave the Port Fairy colony in mid-April to begin their long flight northwards, followed by the chicks in early May."

"Once they leave the Port Fairy breeding grounds, the birds fly rapidly north to their wintering grounds around the Aleutian Islands and Kamchatka peninsula at the most northern extremity of the Pacific."

"It is a mystery how the chicks know where to go without their parents. The chicks are left behind to follow in early May, finding the migratory route without the guidance of the older birds."

As with last year we can expect some dead birds to be washed up on our beaches over the next few weeks; probably more so given the easterlies we are currently experiencing.