Royal Park West - Melbourne

Subject: Royal Park West - Melbourne
From: "J&A Flack" <>
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 08:33:15 +1000
Hello All,

One of our favourite birding haunts (less than 3 km from the GPO) is the 
neglected South Western corner of Melbourne's Royal Park.

This area comprises the almost deserted psychiatric hospital grounds, some 
sports fields, a 'wasteland' with an open drain running all year round with 
excess water from the Melbourne Zoo and the ex-site of the Melbourne City 
Council nursery.

Not a particularly salubrious area on the surface, however, its history of 
neglect (excluding the sports fields) has proven a boon to several bird and 
animal species.

Otherwise extinct local species hang on tenuously in this little stronghold (as 
some also do in the Melbourne General Cemetery nearby - but that's another 
story!) Remaining treasures include Gecko, Skink and Blue-tongue lizard - and 
of course birds!

Flame Robins may be seen in Autumn and Winter, Horsefield's Bronze-cuckoos in 
Spring, Red-rumped Parrots, Eastern and Pale-headed (yes Pale-headed!) 
Rosellas, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Goshawk, Little Falcon, 
Black-shouldered Kite, Kestrel, Brown Falcon - even the occasional Little 
Eagle, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Fantail (alas, the Grey Shrike-thrushes 
seem to have disappeared) Superb Blue-wren, Spotted and Striated Pardalote - I 
could go on.

And as of last weekend , we added Scarlet Robin (a male in full colour) and 
Red-browed Firetails to the list.

On a negative note the old psychiatric hospital site is apparently destined for 
yet another big housing development. The State Government wants it as the 
Commonwealth Games Village site (later to be flogged off as private housing). 
Publicly they're saying they're still undecided on this - privately the current 
users are being told to go because it's wanted for this purpose!

On the positive side, both the 'wasteland' and ex nursery site are being 
returned as public parkland - a wetland apparently is to be included. We hope 
it won't be too manicured and sanitised. Those rank and scrubby areas are what 
so many little creatures really need.

As a postscript to the above, 3 weeks on I've just found a dead Red-browed 
Firetail in a heavily populated local street - less than a kilometre due North 
from Royal Park West. It seems the reconstruction of these areas may be driving 
out at least some of the little birds which depend on them.

Jan Flack

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