When you are in Melbourne you can’t avoid the Yarra River that runs through it and although it is not particularly wide it is home to a variety of bird-life. The river is brown due to silt, but it does not deter the birds. One of the issues along the river is rubbish and it is a tidal river, so rubbish can be collected using a barge system. Not only is it a useful tool for collecting rubbish, but it makes for a perfect roost for many birds along the river as in the pictures above and below. There are seventeen of these barges along the length of the river and they do a good job at keeping the rubbish under control. Little Black Cormorants particularly like to use the barge as a roost.
Rubbish barge or bird roost!
Pied Cormorants and Little Pied Cormorants find the barge a good place to rest!
Pied Cormorant and Little Pied Cormorant
Close to the city itself you will encounter House Sparrows, but venture too far from cafes, bakeries and restaurants and you won’t find them. They have worked out city-life to their advantage over the years that they have been introduced to Australia.
The most common ducks on the Yarra River are Pacific Black Ducks and they are accompanied by Australian Wood Ducks on the river bank.
Pacific Black Ducks
Australian Wood Ducks
There is usually a pair of Masked Lapwings on the bank on one or both sides of the river as you head towards the Botanical Gardens. They rarely let you pass by without some sort of commotion-such is the need of this species to be vocal!
Near the rowing clubs there is an area which is popular with Silver Gulls and Eurasian Coot. There can be several dozen of each species along the edge of the river roosting and feeding along the grassy edges.
Black Swans are also present along the river in good numbers and some of them have been marked at Albert Park to the south. The same ones have been present for some weeks now, but no doubt they will wander off during the year.
Pair of marked Black Swans on the Yarra River
Australian Magpies are a common sight along the edges of the Yarra River and you can often hear them calling from the various gardens.
Some birds are more secretive than others and I have observed Great Egrets and White-faced Herons along the edge of the Yarra River right in the city. Cyclists and pedestrians go by barely noticing the bird-life below the footpaths.
Just when you were thinking all the birds look quite pleasant I will introduce you to three species that do not come across as quite so friendly. These are the Noisy Miner, which is a native bird that terrorises the smaller native birds and pushes them out of habitat. The Common Myna, which is an introduced bird that roams freely among the city and the gardens. Finally the Little Raven, that glares at everybody as they walk by, but does clean up some of the rubbish!
You can be right in the city of Melbourne on the banks of the Yarra River and you will find there are plenty of birds to observe as you go about your daily business.