Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands

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Subject: Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands
From: "Sean Dooley" <>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 12:27:13 +1100
A bit of Christmas cheer for everybody.
For those of you who may have missed the reports in local Melbourne media last week, the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands were inducted into the status of RAMSAR wetlands. This gives this wetland complex an international standing on a par with many of the great wetlands of the world.
RAMSAR listing is a great achievement and testament to the small band of locals and bureaucrats who have been quietly but tenaciously working away on protecting these suburban gems for twenty years. Edithvale and Seaford Swamps are virtually the last remnants of the once mighty Carrum-Carrum swamps which once stretched through much of South-East Melbourne, from Frankston to Mordialloc and across to Dandenong. Draining for agriculture and then suburban development had drastically reduced the wetland area to a few small patches.
When the Patterson Lakes housing development obliterated the fabulous Carrum Swamp, (a rival for Werribee in terms of the amount of rare waders that would turn up there- including one of the earliest records of what would turn out to be Cox's Sandpiper) local conservationists were spurred into action to try and preserve what was left.
Working with local councils and government authorities such as the Dandenong Valley Authority and Melbourne Water, and backed up by the data supplied by Mike Carter and other birdwatchers these few locals began to lobby governments and raise awareness in the local community about the precious asset that lay within their midst. By 1988 the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands were formed and much of the area had received some protection. But to achieve RAMSAR status is a fabulous outcome as it ensures that conservation is the highest priority when any development is considered for the area.
So what can you expect if you visit Edithvale- Seaford Wetlands? (And I highly recommend you do.) Edithvale is actually two wetlands divided by Edithvale Road. The Northern side is publicly accessible, while the Southern side, though fenced off, is serviced by a fantastic bird hide which is opened by the Friends group every Saturday and Sunday from 1- 5PM. The hide allows sensational views of often big numbers of waterbirds including crakes, wildfowl and waders including Latham's Snipe and Wood Sandpiper. Edithvale would be the best place I know to see Australasian Bitterns (Winter only) and Baillon's Crake (Summer only).
Seaford has been the poor relation of late due to some poor management practices in the Eighties which left the once freshwater swamp both brackish and oversupplied with nutrients creating vast, impenetrable beds of Common Reed (Phragmites). The entire area is open to the public but the going within the swamp itself is pretty difficult.
New water regimes have been implemented and are seeing Seaford return to its former glories. A fact very evident when I visited there yesterday on my monthly survey. Conditions are now ideal for waders and should continue to be so for the next three to four weeks (longer if conditions remain cool and wet).
Yesterday I saw 56 species in three hours, the highlights being: over one hundred Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 16 Red-necked Avocets and 44 Black-winged Stilts.
As Seaford is a regular site for birds such as Pectoral Sandpiper and last year Wood Sandpiper returned for the first time in fifteen years, it looks like this could be a great Summer, one made even better by the pride of knowing that my local patch has achieved international recognition.
Again, congratulations to all those who have worked so long hard hard to secure the RAMSAR listing. It just goes to show that just occasionally the good guys can have a win.
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