Gippsland Lakes pelican’s 700km journey

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One of 25 pelicans banded in the Gippsland Lakes as part of a BirdLife Australia Pelican project has been spotted more than 700km away in northern NSW’s Great Lakes.

BirdLife Australia’s Project Manager, Deb Sullivan, said that the bird wearing the red and white leg band numbered 217 was banded as a fledgeling bird in December last year.

“This bird was last seen on the Gippsland Lakes in early March and first sighted at Soldiers Point, NSW on 25 June,” said Ms Sullivan. “We’re very excited to have received this sighting, and so far from where it was banded. We had no idea that our local birds would move such vast distances.

It is hoped that locals in the Great Lakes region will also continue to report sightings of this bird and any other bands they may see.

“We don’t know if 217 had company on its adventure north,” continued Ms Sullivan

“The Pelican is an iconic species to the Gippsland Lakes. But we know very little about their movements within and now we can confidently say, beyond the Gippsland Lakes.

“By banding the birds and receiving sightings like this from keen-eyed citizen scientists, it helps us gather more data on pelicans and their movements. It is going to be interesting to see if 217 returns to the Gippsland Lakes to breed in the future.

“Pelican 217 was spotted by a local wildlife carer who was out looking for an entangled Pelican when she spotted this one.”

This is one of 25 community grant funded projects coordinated by the Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee and funded by the Victorian State Government.

The Gippsland Lakes is home to one of only two permanent Pelican rookeries in Victoria. The sighting of this banded bird so far from its nesting site is exciting information for our project and a better understanding of Pelican movements.

“Reporting sightings of banded birds is easy, and incredibly important to our research,” explains Ms Sullivan. “You can post your photo and sighting details to our Facebook group, Love our Pelicans, or email Deb Sullivan at Alternatively, you can report the sighting with the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme in Canberra.

“If you see a banded Pelican please let us know where and when you saw it, and a photo if possible.

“We don’t know where our banded Pelicans are going to appear, so we encourage you to invite your friends and family to keep an eye out! You just never know what you might find,” continued Ms Sullivan

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