Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Area 7: Large Dam
The large dam in the south east corner of the park map is by far the best waterbird habitat. As you leave the back paddock gate ( or along the track from Gellibrand Hill) you will see Moonee Ponds Creek Bike Path, if you follow this path to your right (west) you will come across this dam. Cosmetically it's more a tip site than a dam (with the occasional burnt out car ).
The birds around the trees on the path can produce things like Purple-crowned Lorikeet, White-plumed and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and Red Wattlebirds. This dam is also another spot for Gilden-headed Cisticola around the thistles as well as European Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Occasionally you can see Nankeen Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite hovering over the grassy/ thistle infested paddocks.
Waterbirds are the main reason to visit here though and you regularly see Grey and Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebe, Eurasian Coot, Black-fronted Dotterel, Masked Lapwing, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant and Black Swans. There has been two rarer waterbirds I have found on this dam, an Australasian Shoveler (male in eclipse) and a yellow-billed Spoonbill which did stay around for a few weeks. If you have time this is certainly the place to increase your daily tally as it's usually a guaranteed 10 birds without to much effort.
My normal route on a full day birding is starting at Weeroona Cemetery Carpark, then along the path to the Sugar Gums, a quick check in the Sugar Gums then walk back down the fence line of the back Paddock to the main gate (Northern central boundary) and into the Back Paddock. Once inside the back paddock along the path past the Drooping She-oaks to the south east corner. Visit the large dam then walk the back paddock perimetre to Gellibrand Hill, check out the birds here and then follow the track back down to the cemetery and back to the car.
I believe if you decide to do my route as described above you should be looking at around 40 to 45 species (dependent on the season and bird activity), it is a rather long day and some ground will need to be covered so do make sure you pack enough water to get you through as there is no place to fill up along this route.