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Monday, 12 February 2018 08:21

Pelicans, you can count on us

The very first Great Pelican Count will be held across the Gippsland Lakes on Sunday, April 8. Deb Sullivan, BirdLife Australia project officer in East Gippsland, said the Great Pelican Count is a fantastic opportunity to get out with family and friends and enjoy the Lakes while contributing important monitoring data. “We’re calling on residents of, and visitors to, the Gippsland Lakes to register to be part of the Great Pelican Count,” Ms Sullivan said. “The count is like a snapshot – like a census – of pelicans across the Gippsland Lakes taken at exactly the same time on the same day. “Anyone can be involved in the count; pelicans are distinctive and easy to spot making it an event the whole family can be involved in,” Ms Sullivan said. The count will be held from 11.30am to noon at a large number of locations around the Gippsland Lakes. “When you register to participate in the count you will be allocated a site, relative to your registration preferences,” Ms Sullivan said. “We have both a nomadic and resident population of pelicans at the Gippsland Lakes, but we don’t actually know a lot about them.

“Annual counts will help provide insights into population fluctuations from year to year and assist with understanding the arrival and departure of nomadic populations using the Lakes in times of high or low rainfall or both. “We want this to become an annual event so that data collected year on year can be used to build a more full and complete picture of the pelican population at the Gippsland Lakes. “Register for the count, grab your friends and family and get out and enjoy the Gippsland Lakes. Your observations as citizen scientists can really make a difference.” To register for the Great Pelican Count visit the BirdLife website. Registrations close on Sunday, March 25. The Great Pelican Count has been adapted from the highly successful BirdLife Australia citizen science survey for Carnaby’s black cockatoos in Western Australia called The Great Cocky Count. Now in its 10th year, the annual Great Cocky Count has provided important data and population changes for a multitude of agencies working with this species. It is also the largest citizen science program in WA. This project is funded by the Victorian State Government for the health of the Gippsland Lakes.