I attach the latest Fact Sheet from the Save Albert Park Group. More
information can be obtained from http://www.peg.apc.org/~sjt/sap
Bird Observations 1979-1995
The birds of Albert Park have been the subject of daily observation and
detailed record keeping for 15 years by Ms Mary Ellen Talmage member of the
Victorian Ornithological Research Group and recognised authority on ravens in
the park. Her work is recognised in Melbourne Parks & Waterways Draft Strategy
Plan (Dec.1993) and Master Plan (Nov. 1994) which both use her census figures
of birds observed in the park.
Since a weekly census of the prolific birdlife of Albert Park Reserve was
undertaken by Ms Talmage in 1979, 129 species have been recorded ranging from
Honeyeaters and Red-Capped Robins to much larger birds such as Sea Eagles,
Kingfishers and Peregrine Falcons. Of the 129 at least 50 were seasonal
residents on their way to other breeding grounds or food supplies, and 33 were
actually using the park as a breeding ground.
When Albert Park lake was drained by Melbourne Parks and Waterways in 1992 new
wetlands were established in apparent recognition of the importance of birdlife
to the park. These wetlands were adopted as nesting sites by Black Swans,
Masked Lapwings, Dusky Moorhens and ducks.
Impact of the Destruction of Vegetation
The removal of over 1000 trees together with shrubs and bushes has seriously
habitat and had a devastating effect on the park's birdlife.
The new pit garage and pit straight are being built through the migration route
of Flame Robins and Richard's Pipits, the area of an important banding research
project begun in 1984 and now abandoned. Over 100 birds are usually seen in
migration, but only 10 were observed in 1995. The removal of stands of native
plantings from that area has ended the breeding grounds of Yellow-rumped
Thornbills, Willie Wagtails, Mudlarks and Magpies. The nesting trees of
Yellow-rumped Thornbills have also been removed.
Scrubwrens and Red Wattlebirds have set up a small breeding colony at the south
end of the
park in the dense vegetation of the Burnley Horticultural College Plantings.
Most of those birds
have fled since the wholesale clearing of this habitat in February 1995.
The area of the now demolished Hellas Soccer Stadium had a mixture of native
was an important breeding habitat and food source for native birds: -
Wattlebirds, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Willie Wagtails and Mudlarks. In
November 1994 the trees were
felled at the height of the breeding season; the flocks of birds whirled
overhead in confusion
and then dispersed. They may not be seen again.
"I have recorded generations of families in there..., but now all their
shelter and food
is gone, and the birds are gone too." (Ms Talmage, Port Phillip Leader,
An unprecedented variety of birds are now observed in the surrounding suburbs.
The Albert Park Habitat
Birds have used Albert Park at different times of the year and in different
ways; some need the
vegetation, some the playing fields, others the lake. Birds like the
Silver-eyes and Greenfinch
arrive in the Spring, raise their young and move on to the winter feeding
grounds. Some 'stop
over' during migration like the Richard's Pipits. Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets
appear when the
gum trees are in blossom, and move in late Autumn. Others such as Coots use the
parkland as their winter feeding ground. Waterbirds feed in and around the lake
and use the islands for nest sites - ducks, Black Swans, Masked Lapwings and
Dusky Moorhens. Birds have different food needs at various times of the year.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and MP&W have a simplistic view of tree
Numbers are not sufficient. A diversity of tree species is needed to meet the
special needs of
many birds. Replanting the lost habitat with new trees of the same age will not
support the former number and variety of birds until they become established
which takes time. In addition a stable environment without constant erecting
and removing of structures is also needed if birds are to be encouraged to
return to and remain in the park.
The balance between flora and fauna has been seriously upset by the Grand Prix
Corporation's construction works and cannot be rectified as easy as it was
Birds Most Affected by Tree Removal
Masked Lapwing Fewer breeding pairs
Galah Fewer nest sites
Eastern Rosella Gone after trees felled Nov94
Sacred Kingfisher Gone after trees felled Nov94
Welcome Swallow Some breeding sites destroyed
Richard's Pipit No migrants since area destroyed
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike No breeding observed in 1994
Flame Robin Numbers down and few seen migrating
Grey fantail Formerly seasonal breeder now only a migrant
Willie Wagtail Many nest sites destroyed
White-browed Scrubwren Habitat destroyed, birds gone
Yellow-rumped Thornbill Habitat destroyed, birds gone
Red Wattlebird Some nest trees felled; numbers down
Little Wattle bird Some nest trees felled; numbers down
White-plumed Honeyeater Some nest trees felled; numbers down
Tree Sparrow Not seen since Hellas areas vegetation destroyed
Australian Mudlark Some nest trees felled; numbers down
Little Raven Fewer breeding pairs
Future of Birdlife in Albert Park
The quality of a public park is enhanced by a variety of birdlife. "I'm not
saying I see Albert
Park as a bird sanctuary, but I think birds are an asset, and part of the park"
Talmage, Port Phillip Leader 13/2/95).
The value of birdlife for the passive recreation enjoyment of the park is
neglected in MP&W's
plans. No reference is made to flora or fauna under Principles for Unstructured
(p.40) or to habitat under Tree Planting Policy (p.52) in the Master Plan of
The latest Proposed Environmental Management Plan for Albert Park (July 1995)
unconvincing on the role of birdlike and the impact of the Grand Prix. The
statement of "Where consistent with the Master Plan, and with public safety,
species should be chosen to enhance habitat for urban wildlife" (p.4-5) can
only be interpreted to mean that vegetation policy will be subordinated to the
needs of the Grand Prix.
The Proposed Environmental Management Plan presents no more than
generalizations about the impact of the Grand Prix:
"It is not anticipated that birdlife will be unduly affected by major
events as has been
the case with the Adelaide Grand Prix" (p.4-14).
This is not supported by MP&W's own consultants' report on the lake management
Knight Merz) which has noted that "because the Grand Prix will last for over
four days it will
take longer than normal for birds to return" and it "could have a significant
impact on wildlife
currently using the lake.." (p.70)
The Proposed Environmental Management Plan has seemingly rejected an option
proposed by its own consultants of using macrophyte planting in the lake to
improve the lake's water quality, one which would provide reed beds as habitat
for birds and would "increase the passive recreation value of the lake" by an
"enhanced natural environment for birds" (p.61). The consultants' report
recognises the need for "structurally diverse vegetation" for "improved bird
habitat values" (p.31).
Wildlife would prove an embarrassment when the Grand Prix and other major
events are held.
The observation by Sinclair Knight Merz that "Given that Albert Park lake has
limited value at
present for a wide variety of wildlife, it is reasonable to conclude that the
Grand Prix should
not have a major impact on wildlife in general" (p.70) is probably the key to
management. MP&W has no interest in encouraging a return to the past diversity
and numbers of birdlife in Albert Park in the immediate future while Albert
Park continues to host the Grand Prix.
SAVE ALBERT PARK - RELOCATE THE GRAND PRIX
10 August 1995
1995 SAVE ALBERT PARK
Permission to copy is given provided this copyright notice is reproduced in full