April 2019 bird survey

After many dry months and just 3 mm of rain in March, Westgate Park is severely stressed, with numerous dead shrubs and trees, especially narrow-leafed peppermints and banksias. Although some eucalypts, including the large Ironbark near the windmill, are flowering, the dry conditions appear to be reducing nectar, as they are drawing very few birds – mostly just Red Wattlebirds. Moreover, we saw only three blue male Superb Fairy-wrens out of 45 birds, indicating almost all males are now in their brown plumage.

Over March the water level in both main lakes dropped significantly, with the land bridge to the main island on the Large Freshwater Lake now exposed. Water quality here appears very good which accounts for the presence there of almost every waterbird recorded in today’s count. Virtually all other water bodies, including the western dam, are completely dry or very low. The Southern Wetlands (chain of ponds) remain an exception, holding water of good quality at mid levels, although not attracting many birds.

The Saltwater Lake is still deep pink with very little bird life on it, just two Black-winged Stilts.

Interesting/notable sightings:

•  Two seasonal visitors seen for the first time this year: three Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters (also heard on 30 March) and two brown Flame Robins along the Yarra River

•  Some eucalypts along the Yarra are in flower and luring lots of birds, including Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets and most of the New Holland Honeyeaters encountered