Short-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris aka Muttonbirds) have been reported dead on Port Phillip Bay beaches over the past week. I found five at Point Gellibrand today. Large numbers of dead seabirds prompts concern that they may have suffered from pollution or some other unnatural threat. But in this case it seems to be a cyclical event, linked to the incredible distance travelled on their annual migration around the Pacific. When they return in November, rough weather can be the end of birds weakened by the journey.
The fledgling ‘muttonbird’ pictured (courtesy of wikipedia) is looking forward to an annual round trip of around 15,000km. The October 2009 edition of the Bird Observer reports a Short-tailed Shearwater found dead at Port Fairy Beach, more than 48 years and 3 months after it was banded as an adult on Griffiths Island, Port Fairy, in 1960. Another curious fact is that Shearwater eggs (just one per burrow) are all laid on, or within a few days of November 25!