Pelican lovers count!

More than 200 people across 92 locations, took part in the Gippsland Lakes Great Pelican Count on Sunday, 7 April.

BirdLife Australia Project Manager, Deb Sullivan said she was thrilled with the number of participants at this year’s count.

“We’re still waiting on some of our survey forms, but at this stage, there were more than 575 pelicans spotted in the half hour time slot, this is an increase on the numbers recorded in the Pelican Count last year,” said Deb.

“This will potentially increase as we receive the last of the survey forms, but it suggests that our resident population has company at the time of this year’s count.”

Deb urged participants to get their observation sheets in as soon as possible.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has already sent their observation sheets in, but we are still waiting on more. If there were no pelicans spotted at your site, this is still vital information as it tells us where the pelicans were on the Gippsland Lakes and how they are using the Lakes.

“This year, we were also sighting banded birds. There are more than 25 banded birds with red and white bands on their legs. Sightings of these pelicans are extra special as it helps us track the movements of individual birds.

“It was fantastic to see so many different groups and individuals participating in this year’s count. We also had groups of young people involved; the Bairnsdale Scouts, Bairnsdale Joey Scouts, Marine Mammal Foundation Marine Champions and the Rotary Junior Community Award participants completing their environmental task.

“And like last year, the weather was perfect. We had counters participating in yachts, kayaks, boats and on land. A number of people even made the journey from Melbourne to participate”

Deb explained that drought is impacting local wildlife and pelicans.

“This is the second year of drought for the Gippsland Lakes and many other regions,” continued Deb. “It’s been a hard year for all birds as drought impacts habitat availability and food supplies. As wetlands dry up birds search for more suitable habitat and are known to travel great distances to do so”

For Pelican lovers a Facebook Group has been set up to share stories, photos and report sightings of banded pelicans. Search for “Love our Pelicans” on Facebook to join.

The Gippsland Lakes Great Pelican Count will be on again next year on the first Sunday of April.

The Gippsland Lakes Great Pelican Count is an initiative of BirdLife Australia supported through funding from the Victorian State Government for the Gippsland Lakes.