Photo taken from Mud Islands with Pelican1 and Authur's Seat in the background.
This Port Phillip Bay landmark was the first site that Mathew Flinders climbed to orient himself, after sailing into the bay in 1802.
Mud Islands has become one of my favourite stops of the Two Bays project. You become aware of them before you see them by the many birds overhead winging their way there. They are an important home and breeding ground for Pelicans, Ibis, Terns, Cormorants, Royal Spoonbills, Storm-Petrels and Silver Gulls.
They are made up of three shrubby islands that rise up out of and are part of the Great Sands in Port Phillip Bay. The islands enclose a shallow tidal lagoon that is fringed with salt marsh. Despite their name the islands are in fact made up of shelly sand and resemble an atoll. The islands are situated closely to the Heads.
The islands were formed by wind and wave action and kept firmly in place by outcrops of phosphate rock. The phosphate rock formed beneath the guano deposits (bird droppings) as guano leached below and combined with shelly sand below to form hard calcium phosphate. This rare rock type is able to withstand marine erosion. The islands are reknown for their bird life and it is interesting to note how strongly birds feature in the creation of the islands themselves. When visiting you can almost imagine a conference of the birds type scenario where they all decided to contribute to building a site for themselves.
The islands are protected under various conventions including the Ramsar and the Register of the National Estate. They are managed as part of the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park by Parks Victoria.
“The breeding pelicans are now using the islands for around 10 months of the year and, if possible, we’d like people to keep away from the breeding colonies and avoid disturbing the birds with boats or jet-skis.”
“Mud Islands are an amazing sight when the birds are breeding with thousands of birds sitting on nests which are built on the ground or in the low saltbush shrubs.”
“Many Victorians wouldn’t realise that this important bird breeding colony is right here in Port Phillip Bay. We want to increase community awareness of this significant site and we want visitors to respect the needs of the breeding birds and to avoid causing them to leave their nests. Eggs or nestlings in unattended nests are vulnerable to being eaten by other species.”
The group on our return to Queenscliff pictured. We had set out to do so many things in one day (the usual Pelican feast) and with the blessings of the weather gods we did it all!. We were also travelling on country with Traditional Owners from the Wada Wurrung who had not had the opportunity to visit the island before.