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
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
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.
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