Saturday, 7 October 2006

Taking terns

Crested terns (Sterna bergii) may spend lots of time grooming, but it only takes a small gust of wind to ruffle the long head feathers and they look ... well ... scruffy. These individuals at Sandy Point, Williamstown, were constantly engaged in trying to appear at their best, while the silver gulls stood around being flawless. (Perhaps they hang around with crested terns to boost their own self-esteem?)

Crested terns occur in coastal areas (and sometimes on large rivers) all around the Australian coast. They are also found throughout Indonesia, the Philippines, southern Africa and islands of the western Pacific and western Indian oceans.

A study of the diet of chicks in a Phillip Island colony showed that Australian anchovies (Engraulis australis) and jack mackerel (Trachurus declivis) were the most popular items on the menu. Anchovies also made up the main part of the diet of little penguins (Eudyptula minor). (Hold the pizza.) So when the anchovy population declines, so do those of the terns and penguins. Add to that the commercial fish catch. In bad years that's a lot of competition for a limited resource.

Read more
Chiaradia, A., Dann, P., Jessop, R. and Collins, P. (2002). The diet of Crested Tern (Sterna bergii) chicks on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia. Emu 102 (4): 367–371.


Anonymous said...

Everyone's got some daggy mates like Cresteds; hang around at the public boat ramps leaning on their dented tinnies while they divvy up the bucket of catch, with the sleeveless plaid flapping in the breeze and one thong without a back half.
But their hair never gets in their eyes because they all sport mullets.

For the Melbourne writer, the BBC is serialising a decidedly quirky reading of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab over 2 weeks. There's nothing like poms' imaginations when it comes to colonial accents. Ha.
You can nab the first 5 episodes in the listen again directory for the last week if you're prompt. The Beeb leaves access up for 6 days after broadcast.

It started last Monday at 9.30am.


Snail said...

Thanks for the info, sir. I didn't know about the serialisation.

The Beeb is wonderful for things like that. My weakness is hopelessly out of date re-runs of the News Quiz.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good hope.
I note you've got into a good steady posting routine.
Any chance of even more Melbourne/local people observations, for example the eating house experiences, or the pub gigs? I lived in Melbourne, around Carlton, for a year back in my teenage, and like the people very much. They are the least prejudiced of all the big cities and Men at Work come from there.

The quinqennial famiglia reunion that takes a month and exhausts all our emotions and bank accounts is over - - -have you experienced an italian swarm of giving/wealth display? There should be a bit of that still obvious around Carlton, shirley - - - the big old casa famiglia has a new machinery shed and a renovated irrigation system, and we are back in our bolt-hole for the next 5 years. I love Torino - the family seat - like a son but my bush is where my heart is. I have chocolate withdrawal symptoms of course. And the internet via Australia's fraudband is such an irritation after you've been flipping through the news at 24MBs everywhere.
You won't see my nick around scribbly unless I think that opening my account is going to be worth the trouble, but I have a lurk weekly for old-time's sake.

Yes, the News Quiz - and a couple of the other panel quiz games - are very wittily done.
There was a panellist with the unprepossessing name of Linda Smith, whose dry commentary used to drop me and my wife ( a very straightforward country body, but unable to keep a straight face when Ms Smith held forth) off our chairs. I think she may have gone to god but I don't want to confirm it and sadden myself.
The current News Quiz, on 4, has an anarchic feel with the moderator often showing faster wit than the panellists. Great fun. There's no tv tuned in at our place, so we get to enjoy old-fashioned stuff like the radio, knitting, insect collection mounting after tea. Weird ay.

all the best, teacher, and I'll drop in when I get time - of which not much now that spring and hay and show time is here.