Westgate Park, Melbourne

To: "" <>
Subject: Westgate Park, Melbourne
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 20:59:14 +1000
Sunday 10th August was beautiful, with a bright sun after a frosty
morning, clear sky, hardly a breath of wind. We drove to St Kilda and
along the Esplanade, admiring the yachts ghosting along on top of their
reflections, and fought our way through Beacon Cove (why all those
sick-looking palmtrees, I ask you?) to Sandridge Beach. Hardly a bird to
be seen - most unusual. Two Silver Gulls, a Little Pied Cormorant drying
his wings on a groyne, a distant ten, probably Crested - plus a Little
Raven, some Indian Mynahs and Starlings and some House Sparrows in a
bush. And four or five White Ibis overhead.

  Along Todd Road to Westgate Park. We hadn't been there for a few
years, and we were very impressed by the growth of teatrees and
Melaleuca and other vegetation round the lakes, giving quite a lot of
shelter from the winds which normally sweep the area. Nothing on the
Salt Lake as usual, but the Freshwater Lake system full of waterbirds,
including a pair of Black-fronted Dotterel trotting along the edge, a
pair of Black-necked Stilts, half a dozen Shoveller on an islet, plus
Coots, Dusky Moorhens, a single Great Egret, a pair of Swans, Black
Duck, Chestnut Teal, a solitary Grey Teal, and both Hoary-headed and
Australasian Grebes.  

   Lots of passerines too - White-fronted Chats, a Little Grassbird
giving its double whistle from the Scirpus clumps - it kindly flew
across the water and was seen in the top of another clump before it
became invisible again. White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters. A
persistent buzzing call made me sure there were Greenfinches about -
eventually I found a beautiful male singing (quite chirpy as well as the
buzz) in a Casuarina, and there were lots of Goldfinches, also singing,
and some Red-browed Finches, as well as Superb Blue Wrens everywhere.
Despite the roar of traffic over Westgate Bridge, it was a remarkably
peaceful corner of this industrial part of Melbourne, with very few
humans about, and most of them on bicycles.

    It's a pity the Freshwater Lake is obviously eutrophied, and
according to a notice, it has blue-green algae as well. But the resident
birds don't seem to mind. We saw seven Pelicans, a single White-necked
Heron and plenty of White Ibis overhead, but no Ibis at ground or

    About twenty years ago, I was shown the site of this park by Kim
Lowe, when it was still a wind-swept industrial wasteland, a series of
shallow sandpits which had filled with water. Builders' rubble had been
dumped there haphazardly in and out of the water, and on these there
were eight pairs of White Ibis nesting - an amazing sight in the very
early stages of Ibis colonization of the suburbs. By the time the Park
was first established, islands had been constructed for their benefit
and I counted about eighty pairs nesting there.  Can anyone tell me if
they still nest in Westgate Park?  There are now so many around
Melbourne that I feel there must be a local colony - or have they all
moved off to the Western Treatment Plant at Werribee?

Anthea Fleming
Birdlist, Westgate Park:
Black Swans, 2
Black Ducks
Chestnut Teal
Grey Teal, 1
Blue-winged Shoveller, 6
Australasian Grebe
Hoary-headed Grebe
Great Egret, 1
Dusky Moorhens
Eurasian Coots 
Black-necked Stilts, 1 pair
Black-fronted Dotterel
Silver Gulls
Domestic Pigeon
Superb Blue Wrens
White-browed Scrubwrens [heard only]
White-plumed Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
White-fronted chats, 1 pair
Little Raven
House Sparrows
Red-browed Finches
Welcome Swallows
Little Grassbird
Indian Mynah

Overhead: White Ibis, Pelicans, a White-necked heron

Sandridge Beach: Little Pied Cormorant 1, Silver Gulls 2, Tern
 Little Raven 1,  House Sparrows, Starlings, Indian Mynahs

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