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THE MYZOMELYPSE!!

November 1987: Mullum Mullum Creek [Donvale area, eastern suburbs Melbourne]. Was my local patch. Still remember day I found Scarlet Honeyeater in the Hillcrest reserve. A mega! Maybe 3rd record of this species for entire Melbourne region [at the time] and a new bird for my list. Probably the major highlight of my early birding career.

Fast forward 30 years and we are in the midst of what some are declaring is the ‘Myzomelypse’. Scarlet Honeyeater [aka Scarlet Myzomela] have hit Melbourne and much of central and eastern Victoria in unprecedented numbers.

Always been regular spring-summer visitors to the forests of East Gippsland and are gradually pushing further west. Now considered semi-regular to the Melbourne area. Have been irruptions in past but nothing on this scale.

Birds are being reported throughout the greater Melbourne area- mostly eastern/north-eastern suburbs but extending south to Mornington Peninsula and Bellarine Peninsula as well. Also reports from Woodlands Historic Park, Werribee Gorge, You Yangs, the list goes on -and that’s only tip of the iceberg. They have spread through central Vic as far west as Linton but including Ballarat, Creswick, Maldon, Bendigo, Echuca, Shepparton, Chiltern and Wadonga.

Below is map showing e-bird reports of Scarlet Honeyeater in Victoria from Aug-Nov 2017

and for the same period in 2016

For a further comparison here is map from Atlas of Victorian Birds showing all Scarlet Honeyeater records submitted in period 1977-1986

So things are changing. We are witnessing an ‘event’ of some sort, presumably response to environmental factors. Climate change? Bushfires? Population growth? Just guessing.

We do know range of certain east coast tropical/subtropical species [Pac Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Figbird, etc] is heading south. Some suggest only matter of time before Noisy Pitta reach the border. All very exciting and all welcome additions to the neighbourhood but worth keeping track of. May not be good news for all involved.

SCOTT BAKER

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