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The mask of Zorro

September 13, 2020

After a while one gets to know all the waterbirds of an area but when the weather conditions provide different conditions new habitats are formed and new birds appear (or maybe they have been there all along but are more widely seen!).

I am familiar with the herons, egrets and spoonbills – those long-legged waders who inhabit our dams and riparian zones where the water level is deep. This winter has been particularly wet, just like the old days the old-timers will tell you. Dams are full and waterways are flooding. When rain continues to fall on water-logged soil small, shallow temporary lakes are formed in depressions where water does not normally sit for long. This provides an opportunity for different waterbirds to come in and forage.

The Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops), pictured, is one such example – the term melanops coming from the Greek melas meaning black and ops meaning face.

The adult features a black breast-bone, mask and forehead. This bird is a wading bird commonly widespread in Australia around fresh water bodies. But as the photos show it has short legs and is therefore restricted to foraging in very shallow water, precisely what all this rain is creating in abundance in the landscape. These photos were taken at the local golf course.

A type of plover, the Black-fronted Dotterel feeds on insects and seeds. The young birds lack the black breastband and forehead but have the black-mask.

Zorro from birth.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lesley Ann Dalziel permalink
    September 14, 2020 8:17 am

    Hi Ron, i have these little birds on my dam, and also the other day a White necked Heron, or Pacific heron. Also, a clutch of Grey Shrike Thrush being raised, in a sombrero rim, in the garage.

  2. susan permalink
    September 14, 2020 9:13 am

    very cute 🙂 article in the Age today about people out and about are noticing birds and taking time to watch and learn.

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