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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

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Magpie Goose

Magpie Goose (Image ID 45767)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Thu 15th Apr, 2021 and uploaded on Mon 19th Apr, 2021 .
Resolution1800x978
Viewed41
ID45767
CommentI was looking at some Australian Black Swans in one of the Western Lagoon wetlands when I noticed what appeared to be a very large strange-looking duck with a knobbly head and pinkish corrugated snout moving around in the reeds. Looking more closely, I realised it was a Magpie Goose, a bird that is not mentioned in most birding guides as likely to be seen at Werribee Treatment Plant. Magpie Geese are listed as endangered in both Victoria and South Australia, and vulnerable in NSW, but still quite widespread in the north of Australia. As seen in the photo, the Goose became excited when it saw movement higher up on the embankment, possibly due to a Purple Swamphen moving close to what might have been a nest site. The Magpie Goose, did, however, quickly settle down again, ambling around in the waters with the amicable swans. The decimation of Magpie Goose populations in southern Australia to the point of local extinction in Victoria and South Australia was already being noticed by John Gould over a century and a half ago. Gould was caustic in his diagnosis of what was causing their decimation: “When New South Wales was first colonized, this fine species was very abundant on the Hawkesbury; it is however no longer a denizen of that river, or of any of the streams within the colony, affording another instance that the progress of civilization invariably leads to extirpation of the more conspicuous [birds]” (“Birds of Australia, V.1). The current Birdlife Australia profile on the Magpie Goose confirms that it used to be widespread in southern Australia but has “disappeared from there largely due to the drainage of the wetlands where the birds once bred”, and that attempts to reintroduce the species back into southern regions have met with “varied degrees of success”. Sighting a Magpie Goose in the wetlands of Werribee is at least one small sign that the struggle to save the species in the south may be making some progress, no doubt in no small measure due to the efforts of the Magpie Goose Breeding Program at Parks Victoria’s Serendip Sanctuary not far to the north of the Werribee Treatment Plant.
EquipmentNikon Z7ii, Nikon 300mm PF f420, Nikon TC1.4 420mm ISO 1250 1/1250th f6.3 Monopod
LocationWerribee Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria
Keywordsadult, behaviour/display
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