The weather forecast read the previous week was dismally ‘cold, wet, windy’, but the day was sunny, breezy and cool so 15 of us assembled with binoculars and cameras. Rob Grosvenor led the group in a walk around the ponds. The area is one of the Melbourne Water flood retarding basins which are surveyed monthly by BirdLife Melbourne volunteers.
It is interesting to record the birds found in such a small, recently established space among an area zoned light industrial and commercial. Birds here clearly survive despite potential disturbance. Clumps of gorse or reeds sheltered Superb Fairy-wrens, Common Greenfinches and Red-browed Finches while some lucky early arrivals recorded a silent Golden-headed Cisticola. New Holland Honeyeaters dominated but there were White-plumed Honeyeaters in some areas including a stand of eucalypts. A few Red Wattlebirds were recorded and a highlight was three Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters at the eastern end of the basin.
Jokes about a ‘duck-free wetland’ fell silent at the eastern ponds beside the go-kart circuit where Grey and Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood and Pacific Black Ducks joined two Great Egrets, several Eurasian Coots, a Dusky Moorhen and a Black-fronted Dotterel.
Other waterbirds included a male Australasian Darter, Little Pied and Great Cormorants, an Australian Pelican, a White-faced Heron and a passing Straw-necked Ibis.Raptors were clearly doing well as we saw Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Swamp Harrier and Brown and Peregrine Falcons. Rock and Spotted Doves, Common Bronzewing and Crested Pigeon were also present.
The final species count was 49; rather satisfying for a winter’s day in a small, much altered area and we thanked Rob for showing us the potential of the site.
Diane Tweeddale coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings