By Anthea Fleming
We met at 8.00 am by the Herbarium Gate, and pottered slowly along the Forest Border. Blackbirds, Starlings and Common Mynahs were feeding on the Oak Lawn with some Little Ravens and distant Magpies. The Forest Border produced some Red Wattlebirds and Eastern Spinebills, and occasional White-browed Scrub-wrens. The Nymphea Pond was promising with an adult Nankeen Night-heron sound asleep, with its bill tucked down on its breast – maddeningly well- screened by low bushes. A younger bird was much more co-operative, permitting fairly close approach. The Gardens Management has planted a quantity of wetland vegetation as a water-cleaning measure; this will also improve bird habitat. At present it has to be screened from destructive Swamp-hens – also good photographic models. Silvereyes were busy in bushes nearby.
The Guilfoyle Volcano – actually another stormwater-cleaning project – had only one or two Black Ducks, but a variety of interesting succulent plants and cacti in flower. Next we made our way down to the Lake, hunting out Brown Thornbills and Scrub-wrens, and a pair of Eastern Spinebills in the plantings. We grieved for the ring-barked Separation Tree, and found more wetland plantings in the Lake’s inlets. Lake-side morning coffee was attended by far too many Common Mynahs and a swarm of young Dusky Moorhens, very alert for any potential food.
Progress round the Lake brought a few Little Black Cormorants on a dead tree, another Night-heron, and the usual Black Ducks, Coots and Moorhens, but only a single solitary Swan, wearing a numbered neck-ring. At the western end of the Lake, Rainbow Lorikeets were feeding on the small fruit of an un-labelled but sweet-scented tree. The steep slope enabled us to get level with the birds. The Bell Miners on Long Island created a lot of interest – they are not always so visible, though always heard. (They colonized the Gardens in the 1980s).
People-watchers had plenty to see, with punt-rides, a wedding coping with the breeze, and a concert on a stage in the Central Lake – pity about the noise.
We moved uphill to the Observatory area, with its feral Pigeons, and refreshments. This was a good spot for the Bird Call. Overall, we managed to see 30 species of birds – not bad, though water-bird numbers were down, probably because there is so much water at present elsewhere, topped up by recent rain. Few native plants are in flower, hence the shortage of honey-eaters. The Gardens remain a great resource for birds, birders and the general public.