AUSTRALASIAN Temperate Seashore
birds

The birds of the temperate seashores of Australasia...

Family Anatidae, Ducks, Geese & Swans

Cygnus atratus, 'Black Swan'. Found on freshwater and saline waters, mostly in southern Australia (rare in tropical north and central arid areas)

(Yalgorap National Park, Western Australia)

Tadorna tadornoides, 'Australian Shelduck'. Female has white on face, male just has black.

(Maria Island, Tasmania)

Cereopsis novaehollandiae, 'Cape Barren Goose'. A bird of uncertain taxonomy, is it a duck or a goose? This is one of the rarest geese in the world. They can drink brackish water, so it they can survive on islands. They have been introduced to Maria Island off Tasmania.

Family Recurvirostridae: Stilts & Avocets

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

Recurvirostra novaehollandiae, 'Red-necked Avocet'. Endemic to Australia. Within that range, can turn up anywhere there is open areas of shallow fresh or salt water.

Family Haematopodidae: 'Oystercatchers'

'Pied Oystercatcher' (Wineglass Bay, Australia)
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Haematopus longirostris, 'Pied Oystercatcher'. The egg of the Pied Oystercatcher is laid in a simple scrape in the sand on the open beach.

Family Charadriidae: Plovers, Dotterels

(South Australia)

Charadrius ruficapillus, 'Red-capped Plover'.

Family Scolopacidae

Family Laridae: Terns and Gulls

Greater Crested Tern (image by Damon Ramsey)'Greater Crested Tern' (Rottnest Island)

Thalasseus bergii, '(Greater) Crested Tern'.

Tribe Larini: ‘Gulls’

There are over 48 species of gull and they can be found all over the world. Most people would recognize gulls as a group and they were once placed in their own family. The bills are straight and strong, and the wings are long. The legs are strong for running, but also webbed for swimming. They are similar in many ways to their close relatives the terns, but differ in the fact that they have heavier bodies and are less aerial. Generally, adult gulls are coloured in whites and greys, with patches of blacks for contrast. As in some other types of seabird, blood brightens the bill and the legs in many species of breeding adults. Many species appear to be fairly long-lived, so there is a slow change of plumage colour and pattern from juvenile to adult over a few years. Gulls are familiar birds that are found all over the world. More species are found in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern, and they are much more common along the temperate seashores of the world than in the tropics. Gulls are not usually found too far out to sea, and thus are often a good indicator of nearby land.

(Maria Island, Tasmania)

Larus pacificus, 'Pacific Gull'. Large gull with massive bill and 'red lipstick'.

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae, 'Silver Gull'. Slim gull with light grey upperparts, snow white head underparts. Breeding adults have bright red bill and legs. This is the common gull in Australasia, and often just referred to as a ‘seagull’. It is taken for granted as has increased in urban areas, and even considered a nuisance. Common all around Australia's coast.

(Kaikoura, New Zealand)

Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae scopulinus, 'Red-biiled Gull'. The New Zealand form of the Silver Gull.

Family Spheniscidae: Penguins

Damon RamseyThe author with a Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand; the author is the short creature on the left (photo by Mark Steadman)

Contrary to many people's expectations, there are just as many penguin species along the cool temperate seashores of Australia and New Zealand as there are along the Antarctic continent shores.

Snares (Crested) Penguin(Snares, New Zealand)

Eudyptes robustus, 'Snares (Crested) Penguin'.

(Fiordland, New Zealand)

Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, 'Fiordland (Crested) Penguin'.

Yellow-eyed Penguin walking on sand (image by Damon Ramsey)(Otago Peninsula, New Zealand)

Megadyptes antipodes, 'Yellow-eyed Penguin', 'Hoiho', 'Tarakaka'.

'Little/Blue/Fairy Penguin'. The smallest of all penguins. The one most commonly seen in southern Australasia.

Family Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants

(Australian Pied Cormorants, Shark Bay, W.A)

Depending on your taxonomy, there are at somewhere between 29 and 37 species of cormorants and shags found around the world. The names ‘cormorant’ and ‘shag’ have little biological significance or taxonomic correlation outside of Europe, for the names change depending where you are; in southern Australia most species are referred to as ‘cormorants’, whereas in New Zealand the very same species may be called 'shags'.

They are almost always found near water; some species near freshwater, others near marine, but many species are found in both habitats. Cormorants are large birds, usually black, and often with some white or grey. They have a long body shape with short legs and big, webbed feet set back on the body, so as they stand upright when on land. They have long, straight bills with a hooked tip at the end. They paddle along in the water surface somewhat like a duck, but they usually sit much lower in the water.

This reason they do not float in the water is that, unlike most waterbirds, the feathers of cormorants are not waterproof. This reduces buoyancy, which allows them to submerge without effort and with an absence of bubbles, and allows them to ‘sneak up’ on their prey. However, this also means they have to ‘hang their wings out to dry’ and are often seen standing with their wings outstretched. Cormorants on the coast feed mainly on marine animals such as fish, crustaceans and squid.

(Shark Bay, W.A.)

'Great Pied (Australian) Cormorant', 'Pied Shag'. Found around coasts of Australasia.

(Shark Bay, W.A.)

'Little Pied Cormorant/Shag'. Has an 'angry' face. Found along coasts in Asia and Australasia.

(Shark Bay, W.A.)

'Little Black Cormorant'. Hard to see in photograph, but these birds have milky green eyes. Found along coasts in Asia and Australasia.

Family Sulidae: Boobies, Gannets

(Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand)

 Morus serrator, 'Australasian Gannet'.

breeding displays leads to...
....fluffy young

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