One of the truly reliable indications that spring has finally arrived is the somewhat monotonous sound of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo.
During a walk near the Anglesea River recently I was aware of three different species of Cuckoos—Fan-tailed, Shining Bronze and Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoos, all in full voice. These birds are parasitic and are anticipating an opportunity to utilise the nests of smaller, local birds.
A Brown Goshawk raised a brood last year at the corner of Camp Rd and Wilkins St and is present again at the same place. What could be the begging call of chicks has been heard from time to time. The nesting tree hasn’t been identified but is probably one of the tall pines in the vicinity.
A Grey Goshawk (white morph) which raised chicks along Coalmine Rd, north of the river has been sighted in the same area. It is hoped that the pair will renovate the nest and raise another brood this year.
A regular spring/summer visitor to the area near the bike park and Parks Vic and DELWP depots is the Olive-backed Oriole. The bird is back again this spring and its distinctive call can be heard regularly from nearby streets throughout the day.
A Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater was seen in the Torquay area recently which is a bit unusual, although I have seen this species active in the coastal vegetation at Breamlea some time ago. They are more commonly found in areas further north.
Earlier last month I noticed three Red-rumped Parrots in Anglesea browsing on the grassy nature strip.
The Anglesea River is one of the town’s attractive features. It provides a pleasant environment for people to enjoy activities such as bush walking, birdwatching etc. as well as providing shelter and protection for many creatures which inhabit the riverside vegetation. However, over the years there have been periodic problems associated with water quality and aquatic species.
Regina from Ecologic has provided the following information:
Kuarka Dorla—Place of Yellow Mullet. The Anglesea River has a long history of providing a rich source of fish, plants, eggs and reptiles for three Wadawarrung clans for many years. Substantial middens and stone artefact scatters suggest a long relationship with this river based on food collection.
It is really disappointing to observe the paucity of species in and at the river today. Changes to the pH of the river have caused numerous fish-kill events, the most recent of which has lasted for longer than 12 months. This means that the sea grasses, river floor species, fish, birds and riparian species have been seriously compromised. The seagrasses would provide habitat for the permanent bream population as well as for invertebrates. The numbers of birds that would swoop for fish and dwell in the wetlands are no longer evident.
This biodiversity is primarily threatened by the liberation of acid sulphate from soils, the altered physical form of the river, particularly at Coogoorah Park, reduced connectivity and invasive species. Stormwater and rubbish also contribute to the problem.
Rivers, like the Anglesea River, have the capacity to heal and to recover their health and biodiversity. It is heartening to hear the frogs are returning and the wetlands are full after recent rains. As the pH rises again to neutral, hopefully other species will recover. They need our care.
Regina Gleeson Ecologic Education
(CCMA Anglesea river 2012-20 Estuary Management Plan.)