A windy day saw the survey team observing reduced numbers of species and bird numbers. Honeyeaters were however well represented (over 50 white-plumed honeyeaters for a start). Highlights were a peregrine falcon and a brief sighting of a male golden whistler.
48 bird species were spotted in this 14 Mar survey with 3 Australasian Shovelers and Black-winged stilts dancing over a deep pink Saltwater Lake (see images in report) definite highlights.
Water levels in the two large lakes continue to fall. Most islands are now well exposed in the freshwater lake, and the appearance of pelicans, cormorants and egrets suggests an abundance of mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis). The saltwater lake currently has a dark pink algal bloom – resembling Homer’s wine-dark sea – not a problem for red-kneed dotterels and black-winged stilts.
Vegetation throughout the park continues to dry out, with an increasing number of shrubs dying or already dead, despite the park receiving 33 mm of rain over the previous four weeks.
Interesting and notable sightings:
- A Friends member and Telstra volunteers saw a black-eared cuckoo being harassed by a pair of willie-wagtails at the edge of the freshwater lake on Wednesday 13 February. A photo taken at the time has been carefully examined. This is our first record of a species that rarely moves as far south as Melbourne.
- The single spiny-cheeked honeyeater sighted this month could be the first arrival for 2013. Since monthly surveys commenced in 2007, this species has always arrived at Westgate Park between the middle and end of March.
- As the observers counted gulls, cormorants and a collared sparrowhawk along the park’s lower Yarra section, a dolphin made its way downstream.
Here too is the record of a full year of sightings (Mar – Feb): Westgate Park bird month numbers 12-13
In contrast to a less than biodiverse early December, our January count brought several treasures: a Baillons Crake and a Spotted Crake, the latter the first since surveys started in 2007; a high-flying Peregrine Falcon; six Little Grassbirds; five Reed Warblers; and three Red-kneed Dotterels. The crakes, grassbirds and warblers are finding the falling water levels to their liking. Moreover, observers noted five Pied Oystercatchers foraging along the river late in December.
Rabbits are prevalent – but one appeared to be afflicted with myxomatosis.
December’s survey on a hot windy day yielded only 37 species. The highlights were watching four Little Ravens chasing a Whistling Kite from the park and seeing young Black-winged Stilts on the saltwater lake edge. With few flowers in the canopy at present, Little Wattlebirds were entirely absent, but Musk Lorikeets flew overhead. The most interesting observation for December so far has been a pair of Latham’s Snipe in the railway swamp.
The group is very concerned at the rise in rabbit sightings over spring – 18 this survey. Action is needed.
A good survey – 48 species – with water levels remaining high despite the dry spring. Notable sightings; the number of Horsefield’s Bronze-cuckoos and the pair of Australasian shovelers. Watching young swans develop their independence is interesting. Rabbit numbers are growing.
The October survey delivered another record number of species – a grand total of 56 – 5 more than the previous best in January 2012. The total number of species seen at the Park is now 140.
Of note was an elusive immature Golden Whistler, first seen in September, a pair of early arriving Sacred Kingfishers, One of the two pairs of nesting Black Swans now has 4 cygnets and a Pallid Cuckoo was seen being harassed by two Willie Wagtails – the first record of this species in the Park.