Randwick Environment Park

Randwick Environment Park productive despite dry conditions

The 13 hectares of Randwick Environment Park, nestled behind Sydney Eastern Suburb’s low coastal hills, is an island of bush in the city and haven for an unexpectedly wide range of species. The east has had more rain than most of Sydney over the past two years but not sufficient to reinstate the park’s two hectares of shallow lake and wetlands.

 In August 2017 a survey of the wet area described exposed mudflats and 20 bird species including Grey Teal, Pacific Black Ducks, Grebes, Dusky Moorhen, White Ibis, Coots and a White-faced Heron. By April 2018 the same area was described as dry and there were no water birds counted among the 11 species but there were 16 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos. More recent counts have listed only four or five species including Magpies, Kookaburras, Ravens, and Currawongs in the now dried out wetland.

 Last week’s survey of the previously wet area was another low count; five species including two Yellow-rumped Thornbills which might be another marker of the dry conditions. However this park continues to surprise and the junction of the oval and walking track was swarming with small birds. Forty or fifty Silvereyes, two dozen Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Red-browed Finches, more Yellow-rumped Thornbills and then Starlings and Common Mynas, Eastern Spinebills, Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters, Spotted Pardalotes, a Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail and a Restless Flycatcher all in a small area.

Restless Flycatcher at Randwick Environment Park

Restless Flycatcher at Randwick Environment Park

Eastern Suburbs Sydney

This morning was a catch up in eastern Sydney. Firstly Centennial Park, an oasis close to the centre of Sydney, gathering place for a surprising number of water birds and some bush birds. Checking on the regulars, there is one of the Tawny Frogmouths, a male, together with this year’s fledgling sitting on a higher branch in the same tree. The Intermediate Egret is on the Lily Pond and the Grey Butcherbird is in position to swoop on passersby. At Kensington Pond I do a standardized two hectare, twenty minute survey. Not many water birds, some Dusky Moorhens and a couple of Eurasian Coots. There are New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Spotted Doves and Crested Pigeons as well as the usual collection of Superb Fairy-wrens, Australian Magpies, Australian Ravens and Magpie-larks. Highlight is a Sacred Kingfisher sitting on the far bank close to construction work for the Randwick Golf Course Light Rail Station - still going on.

Then on to Randwick Environment Park, a small park formed in 2010 from 13 hectares that had been previously part of Randwick Army Barracks. The park contains endangered remnant Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub and a wetlands covering several hectares at its centre.  At times this park has attracted unusual birds including Latham’s Snipe, White-necked Heron, Australasian Shovelers, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, and Spangled Drongos. However as this year’s drought kicked in the wetland dried and water birds disappeared. Another standardized survey confirms that Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Laughing Kookaburras (pictured below) and Noisy Miners have taken control of what is now a totally dry area. The highlight was a Yellow-rumped Thornbill, an uncommon visitor to the park.