May 2019 bird survey

On the survey date drought was still biting at Westgate Park, which received very little rain in late April and early May. All lakes were very low, with exposed mud connecting the freshwater lake’s islands, and the freshwater dam almost completely dry. However, freshwater wetlands near the compound, along the HWT fence and in the new chain of ponds beyond the bridge still contained reasonable quality water. The salt lake had an intense pink algal bloom on the survey date, with algal blooms still developing in some smaller salt lakes. 

(In late May, the situation is slightly better after very recent light rains, but the pink colouration is dissipating.)

Drought has also claimed numerous trees and shrubs, including some large eucalypts and banksias. Unfortunately, the many visitors strolling around the pink lake create unofficial paths, trample vegetation such as saltbush and discourage waterbirds and shore birds.

Interesting/notable sightings included an Australian Hobby high up a Todd Road communications tower, a fairly rare visitor. White-naped Honeyeaters are unusual – although just one bird was sighted along the HWT fence, as the species is sociable there were probably more around. Painted Button-quail platelets (leaf litter brushed away in circular patterns when the birds seek food) were reported from the park’s south-eastern corner. Both Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbills were sighted in April – see photos below by Ursula Dutkiewicz. Four Pacific Gulls, including one first-year bird, were seen along the Yarra.