Participants in the Friends of Merri Creek Birdwatch and Wildflower tour on Sunday 18th November 2012 were thrilled to see the rare Latham's (Japanese) Snipe as we entered the grassland (also known as 'Cooper Street Grassland'). This migratory species breeds in the northern islands of Japan and spends the southern summer feeding in wetland areas through eastern Australia.
Latham's Snipe requires soft mud to feed in so habitat has been scarce during the many years of drought in the late 1990s and first decade of the 21st century. The species has been uncommon in Merri Creek sites where it was recorded up to the mid 1990's
|Latham's Snipe in flight.|
Martins- which are a kind of swallow were hunting for small insects overhead. This made it difficult to confidently identify them as Fairy Martins or Tree Martins. Both occur along the Merri and nest in colonies, building mud nests in the shape of a bottle. Fairy Martins build theirs in cliff overhands, bridges, culverts and quarries while Tree Martins place them in large tree hollows.
The the more colourful wildflowers were thin on the ground but a beautiful variety of native grasses were flowering. It was striking how small gilgais (shallow damp depressions) could be identified by the flowering stems of rushes, sedges, Reed Bent Grass and Swamp Wallaby grass.
The next Friends of Merri Creek birdwatch at Bababi Marning is coming up soon on February 24th. You can also take part in FOMC Birdwatches at a number of other sites on the week before, 17th February. See the events calendar for details.