This group of birds are primarily long legged, necked and billed wading birds, which include Heron, Egret, Spoonbill and Ibis. They are mostly found in the wetlands, boggy/marshy areas and grassy areas nearby or in flight overhead searching for new feeding places, but some are also found along the coastline.
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
A medium sized grey heron with yellowish legs and distinctive white face, with a slow, sweeping flight action. This bird can be seen both in the rockpools and on the beach and feeding around The Cape wetlands, particularly around the marshy entrance to the larger wetland. Often you will see its head popped up above the grasses and sedges. A regular Cape visitor (singularly and in small groups) and often seen flying over as it moves between the coast and inland marshlands.
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica)
Larger and less common than the White-faced Heron, a slaty-grey body colour with all white head and neck, this heron is normally seen around the marshy areas at the entrance to the larger Cape wetland. It is also regularly seen around farm dams along Wilson’s Rd. It is a less frequent visitor than the White-faced Heron and is predominantly seen as an individual bird at The Cape.
Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus)
A rare visitor to The Cape and probably a winter visitor from the northern states. It is usually associated with feeding by following and perching on cattle. It has ventured into The Cape wetlands occasionally. A small white bird with slightly buff head, yellow bill, and black legs.
Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) VULNERABLE
A large bird with snowy white plumage and spoon-shaped black bill with black legs. It is graceful in flight and sometimes mistaken as an Australian Ibis from afar. When feeding, it sweeps its bill side by side as it detects prey. Although a fairly common bird in eastern and northern Australia, it is classified as a vulnerable species in Victoria. An uncommon bird at The Cape, observations include a small flock of three birds working the marshy edges of the central wetland complex and along the edge of the coastal bushland to the west of the estate near Wilson’s Rd.
Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca)
A very common bird around The Cape and the surrounding district. It is seen in the wet, boggy open spaces and around the edges of wetlands and occasionally on the coast feeding amongst the rocks. All white, with sometimes grubby, discoloured plumage, it has a black head and long, downward curved black bill and black legs. It has a graceful flight interspersed with glides and is often seen in large numbers flying in a V formation. It is seen in really good numbers after significant rain events when grasslands are saturated.
Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis)
From a distant, this bird looks black, but it has in fact a very colourful, iridescent plumage and straw like neck feathers. They are common between Bass and Kilcunda and around the Wonthaggi area. They are often seen in flocks around The Cape and flying over in arrow-head formation, particularly after wet weather when the grassy open spaces are inundated. They will often be seen together feeding with Australian White Ibis flocks and sometimes in mixed flying formations.