Saturday, September 28, 2013

Braeside Park - Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands and return

Braeside Park is nestled in the south east suburbs of Melbourne and was the destination of today's walk. Eleven of us met in the carpark and headed off as the wind blew clouds and rain over our heads.

The surrounding area, which includes Braeside park, was originally inhabited by the Bunurong people. They hunted animals and gathered food growing in the coastal bush land. They also carved canoes from Eucalyptus trees to use to fish and hunt waterbirds. Several trees remain in the park which bare these scares. 

This tree is not one of them!

Modern Art?!

The row of European cypress are being gradually removed and sculptured to resembled local animals and birds. Very creative!

Natural sculptures

The geology of the landscape is a mixture of sandy, coastal heathland and woodlands where the soil is able to support giant Red Gums.

Spot the dragonfly.

Europeans settled in the area in the 1840 and the land was cleared to graze cattle and later to breed and train horses for thoroughbred racing.

A sewage treatment plant was built in 1940 and operated until it closed in 1980. Braeside Park was then created. Many of the larger trees in the area may have died as a result of nutirents rich water produced by the treatment plant. Australia natives have evolved in impoverished soils, so tend to not grow well when inundated with too many nutrients. 

Some of the grazing land was also developed into golf courses as sandy soil is excellent for drainage.

Fortunately, some land was set aside for the Park and other nearby wetlands provide a network of waterways and remnant bushland for native wildlife and bird-life that live in.

Much has been done to restore and re-vegetate the Parklands. Volunteers, Parks employees and the local Friends group hold regular planting days to help remove weeds and replant areas with endemic native species.

Several trails weave through the Park which allow visitors to explore the different habitats and wetlands. Nesting boxes have been placed for various species of bird and animals as well as bird hides for people to sit in to observe the abundant bird-life that live in and visit these wetlands.

After walking the length of the park, we crossed a road and suddenly, we were in suburbia.

Shared bicycle and walking paths link a number of small lakes and parkland with Braeside Park and the nearby Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands. 

The Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands are of international significance. They represent the last remnants of the Carrum Carrum Swamp, a large inland, freshwater coastal lake, that was mostly drained when Europeans settled in the area.

Approaching weather!

These Wetlands support a rich and diverse bird population of local and international importance. The wetlands are home to the endangered Australasian Bittern and Magpie Goose and is visited by up to 25 migratory species including the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

Can't see any birds here!

Other species living in the wetlands include Purple Swamphens, Blackwinged Stilts and up to six species of ducks.

No birds here either!

Black swans are also increasing their numbers in the wetlands!

Black Swan and Cygnets!

Other birds species living in the wetlands include the Great Egret, Baillon's Crake, Lewin's Rail and the White-bellied Sea Eagle.

That's where they are!

After visiting the birds, we walked through the reeds and had lunch out of the rain under a very large bird hide.

This bird hide is in fact the Edthivale-Seaford Wetland Education Centre and much to our disappointment it was closed. We sheltered underneath to eat lunch out of the passing rain.

A big bird hide!

The Education Centre is open on Sundays to the general public and provides learning opportunities to school children on week-days. For more information click here.

After lunch we walked back through suburbia.

A brief stop was made a coffee shop with a view.

View from coffee shop window.

We eventually arrived back at Braeside Park just in time for the last quarter of the AFL Grand Final. Thought I wasn't going to mention football didn't you!! Well, I did!

Hello Possum!

Go Hawks!!

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.

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