May 1 bird survey

After a wetter than usual April with a total of over 100 mm rainfall, the water level is high in both large lakes. This has provided particularly favorable conditions for deep water diving feeders in the large freshwater lake. Birds such as Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes and Hardheads are currently plentiful, and have been accompanied by a single female Musk Duck – a rarely seen visitor in the park that first appeared in January this year.

The high rainfall also reduced the extreme salinity of the saltwater lake, resulting in a higher than usual number of waterbirds there, especially Eurasian Coots.

Conditions were also good for land-based birds with lots of flowering eucalypts providing nectar for a high number of New Holland Honeyeaters. Superb Fairy-wrens were noticeably plentiful with today’s count being the highest ever recorded for this species, a total of 124. Their numbers in Westgate Park have been gradually increasing over the 16+ years we have been undertaking these monthly bird surveys.

A Black-faced Cormorant was observed by Elke Link on 17 March (see the April report) in the Yarra River on the Westgate Park side. She noted at the time there appeared to be plenty of fish, which the cormorant was successfully feeding on before flying off towards the bay. After seeing a good sized snapper being hauled in by a fisherman on the Yarra River bank, it appears that the water quality in the river is very good now. Hopefully more reports on feeding seabirds in the Yarra will appear soon.