This summary covers 11 wetlands in the Dandenong Creek Catchment that are surveyed monthly by volunteers from BirdLife Melbourne and Bayside Branches under a contract issued by Melbourne Water. The surveys commenced in June 2007 with 10 wetlands being surveyed. In December 2012, an additional wetland, Rigby’s, was added.
At the end of March 2014, 183 bird, seven frog, three reptile, seven mammal and two fish species identified.
Water levels at all wetlands varied greatly with low water levels during summer but an occasional storm, especially one in late March with an excess of 50mm in the catchment caused local flooding over a few days creating a completely different environment for five teams surveying at the end of March. Extensive earthworks were implemented at the River Gum Wetland with the spillway lowered and new mud flats created that will be planted out in the future. A dramatic habitat change.
Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel enjoyed the low water levels at several sites. Latham’s Snipe was recorded at seven sites in January, five in February and one in March. Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper were only recorded in January at one site, Rigby’s. Cuckoos were not recorded at any site. The Australian Reed-Warbler was still at three sites in March, all sites in January and three in February.
Highlights at individual sites
Frog Hollow Wetland, Endeavour Hills (Melway: 91 G9)
Buff-banded Rail new for the site in January. A high number of Pacific Black Duck, 70 in February and in March, 88 recorded. Also in March, 53 Eurasian Coot recorded and several other sites also recorded high numbers of this species in March.
Kilberry Boulevard, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 J9)
Barbary Dove, presumably an escapee, still present in January. An Australian Shelduck added to the sites count in February and a large number of Spotted Dove, 36, in March.
River Gum Creek Reserve, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 H9)
Exposed mud flats attracted both Australian Spotted and Spotless Crake in January. The tally of Scaly-breasted Lorikeet climbed to five from the normal three of four. Breeding successful? Silver Gull took a liking to the site in January with 735 recorded. A low-light January saw the first sighting of a Red Fox and the remains of a Black Swan in the grass beside the wetland. May have been the Fox. Pacific Black Duck, 88, and Eurasian Coot, 76, numbers high in January.
South Golf Links Road, Narre Warren (Melway: 110 F11)
Eurasian Coot, 33, numbers high in January. A Red-kneed Dotterel in March was a first for the site.
Hallam Valley Road, Dandenong South (Melway: 95 K3)
Good conditions for Superb Fairy-wren in January with 77 recorded and 26 Fairy Martin were taking advantage on the conditions. Introduced species featured in February with 195 Common Starling and 114 European Goldfinch noted. European Goldfinch,76, numbers down in February but Silvereye were passing through with 25 noted.
Waterford Wetlands, Rowville (Melway: 73 E10)
Eurasian Coot, 38, featured again in January and also eleven Hardhead. One of only a few sites to record this species. Looks like a few Eurasian Coot took fright in February as only 35 were noted. The site’s highlight was a lone Royal Spoonbill in March – new for the site.
Troups Creek, Hampton Park (Melway: 95 K5)
The January survey day was the day to be at this site as a single Little Bittern was recorded. A first for all sites. In the same month, Superb Fairy-wren, 68, Golden-headed Cisticola, 68, and European Goldfinch, 94, were noted. February saw Australian White Ibis, 223, Purple Swamphen, 48 and Superb Fairy-Wren, 43. High numbers of the same species were recorded in March. Australian White Ibis, 213, Purple Swamphen, 23, and Superb Fairy-wren, 55.
Mordialloc Creek, Braeside (Melway: 73 E10)
Surveys were only conducted in January and February as weather conditions in March prevented the survey on the nominated day. In January, Crimson Rosella and Striated Pardalote were new to the site and a highlight in February was recording a Spotless Crake.
Heatherton Rd South, Dandenong (Melway: 90 H4)
No major highlights recorded during the period although in January, 191 Australian White Ibis were noted and Rainbow Lorikeet, 56, were active. This site is one of the few of the 11 sites being surveyed to record the Mistletoebird on most survey days.
Heatherton Rd North, Dandenong Nth (Melway: 90 H2)
Seven Latham’s Snipe were flushed in January and a high number of Eurasian Coot, 46, noted. Latham’s Snipe were down to one in February. A new species for the site in March – a lone Spotted Harrier, a not too frequent visitor at most sites.
Rigby’s Wetland, Rowville (Melway: 72 C11)
Why does a relative ‘new’ site produce so many bird species? I guess Melbourne Water’s engineers and designers have got it right in the design of the four wetland cells and surrounding habitat. In January, four new species were added, Curlew Sandpiper, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Caspian Tern and Brown Thornbill. In February, Collared Sparrowhawk and Green Finch were added. March produced a Brown Falcon. Also in March, the highest number of Chestnut Teal, 1008, noted on a survey day; also Australasian Shover, 18, and Spotless Crake, 10.
River Gum Creek – Interpretive Brochure Launch
On the 22 February, an Interpretive Brochure was launched in conjunction with a Bird Walk at the wetland. Two other Bird Walks were conducted at the same site on the 8th and 15th March. Volunteers from BirdLife Australia assisted as leaders for each Bird Walk.
The brochure indicates the location of River Gum Creek wetland plus two adjoining wetlands, Troups Creek and South Golf Links Road in Hampton Park/Narre Warren suburbs. Sixty bird species that may be found in the area are depicted by photos. The production of the brochure was made possible through funding successfully secured by Living Links from the Environment Protection Authority’s Inspiring Environmental Solutions Program.
In the ‘follow up’ of the Bird Walks, a ‘Tree Planting Day’ was held at River Gum Creek on 5th April 2014.
A full tally of the three month sightings may be found on the BirdLife Website at http://www.birdlife.org.au/locations/birdlife-melbourne/projects-initiatives-mel and download the pdf below. The results are also displayed at the Birdlife Melbourne Branch monthly Balwyn meetings.
Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne DCS Recorder