Birding Albert Park, Melbourne
As I mentioned last week, we have suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the city of Melbourne and I am discovering all the birdlife that lives among so many people. I am also learning to allow a lot more time to get around on foot, because in Broome we have such a small population that roundabouts control the traffic and here there are traffic lights. I don’t appear to be synchronised to Melbourne traffic lights and I am constantly waiting to cross the roads! House Sparrows thrive in the city, but don’t appear to inhabit the parks and gardens quite as much. The constant supply of crumbs around the city must offer enough of a reason to not live in the parks! Interestingly the Botanical Gardens don’t appear to sustain a population of House Sparrows at all among all the greenery.
Among the various birding walks I have made this week I have been back to Albert Park to see all of the Black Swans and other birds, with a detour to the coast at Port Phillip Bay. I have worked out that you can minimise traffic lights by keeping to the left hand side of St Kilda Road when you walk out of the city. At the Domain interchange you are soon veering to your right and you arrive at Albert Park shortly afterwards. It is rather challenging to work out the entrances for pedestrians at the moment due to the preparation of the area for the Formula 1 Grand Prix next month. I am actually intrigued as to what the birdlife will do prior to and during the car-racing. After almost 20 years of racing at Albert Park the birds no doubt have a plan!
I actually managed to enter the area close to the lake this week through one of the pedestrian tunnels and there were numerous Martin species nests along the pipe near the upper part of the tunnel.
Martin species nest in a tunnel
There was a pair of Long-billed Corellas busy digging up the dirt along the path and being rather destructive. They did appear to be retrieving some large grubs from the dirt.
Further along the track I noticed some short pieces of tree branches dropping to the ground and on further investigation there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos high up in the tree. Red Wattlebirds and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes fly high between the tall trees and Noisy Miners make their presence known. Red-rumped Parrots can be quite well disguised on the grass until you approach and they lift off. They soon hide among the tall trees.
The trail around the lake offers plenty of shade and also water fountains, which Little Raven have worked out are an excellent source of water!
You can also expect to encounter Masked Lapwings, which will call out vocally as they are want to do as you try and pass by.
Waterbirds include Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots, Dusky Moorhens, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Wood Ducks and Chestnut Teal. Both Little Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants take advantage of the wharves and roost alongside the Silver Gulls.
Little Black Cormorants, Little Pied Cormorants and Silver Gulls
Intermittently the Little Black Cormorants all take to the lake and feed together in a large flock. I have observed Eurasian Coot with small fish and no doubt the other birds are also feeding on these.
Little Black Cormorants feeding with Black Swan rumps to the rear!
The shallow areas of water with surrounding reed beds are a good place to stop and observe the Australian Reed-Warblers and Black-winged Stilt.
The walls around the shallow areas are also good roosts and on one visit there was a lonely Australian Pelican taking a rest.
I have observed several Common Starlings around the city, but they have not been in large numbers at all. At Albert Park there was one hopping across the green plant matter in the shallow area of the lake.
There’s a good variety of birds at Albert Park and also plenty of places to stop and enjoy the scenery, but don’t plan to go birding there from March 12th until March 15th while the Formula 1 Grand Prix is on!!
I have now submitted 87 individual Black Swan neck bands to the website, having observed different birds on subsequent visits.