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
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
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
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
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.