A large numbers of pelicans have been sighted in the waterways of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers and in lagoons, dams and lakes. JESSICA AQULINA reports.
A record warm autumn has not only kept our gardens in full bloom but also helped one bird species — pelicans — to travel more effectively.
Cumberland Bird Observers Club editor Mark Fuller believes the warmer weather has helped the large birds travel inland for great distances.
"In the last week or two we have had very warm weather which allows pelicans to fly long distances," Mr Fuller said.
"Those warm frontal systems allow them to move around more, which could be the reason why we are seeing more flying around.
"They can fly hundreds of kilometres if there is a thermal."
Pelicans usually breed in colonies of up to 40,000 birds on islands or secluded shores during the winter months.
Mr Fuller said another reason we could be seeing more pelicans in western Sydney was a result of the birds preparing for their breeding season.
"Breeding season is soon, which means they could be stopping to get something to eat before they start to move off again," he said.
More food stocks in the Nepean and the Hawkesbury could also attract the birds inland, Featherdale Wildlife Park, Doonside senior curator Chad Staples said.
"There could have been more rain inland which has resulted in more food, and that could be why the pelicans are flying out," he said. "They could be stopping for a rest before moving on."
■ Australian pelicans grow up to 1.8 metres long;
■ They have a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres;
■ The Australian pelican’s large bill grows up to 50 centimetres in length;
■ Pelicans live up to 25 years or more;
■ They can stay in the air for 24 hours by riding thermal currents, and can travel hundreds of kilometres in one go;
■ A flying pelican can reach speeds of up to 56 km/h.