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This story has a happy ending. In October 2011, during a walk in Tempe Reserve, we came across a young Ibis with a string injury. She was a juvenile female & had string wrapped many times around her leg & between a few of her toes. She was limping & in pain. Council park workers were also concerned saying she had been like this for “at least 7-months.” That would mean she was injured around February-March 2010.
For the following couple of months we tried almost daily to catch her, but no luck. The women from Inner West WIRES were great & came many times. The RSPCA came & gave us some tips. Seabird Rescue came twice. Friends also gave of their time. All up 8 Ibis & a couple of Crested Pigeons with fishing line or string injuries were caught.
Unfortunately we could not catch the original bird who we named Sweetie. She was way too smart to fall for any of our tricks & once she realized what was on, would go & sit 30-metres away. If we went towards her she would move until she was 30-metres away again – close enough to see what was going on, but far enough away to be safe.
Eventually the string amputated her back toe & she became really ill. It’s horrible to see a bird shaking from pain. She survived & was left carting around a much smaller bunch of string.
Over the last year a local man called Paul started catching other injured Ibis who came to Tempe Reserve. He uses a fly line for salmon fishing & has been very successful as the line is hard for the birds to see & easy for him to control. In the last month he has caught a couple of Ibis whose legs were shackled by fishing line. One of the birds took him 8-days to catch. It’s a good deed & it brings him much joy when he is successful.
Injured birds are a trademark of Tempe Reserve. Other parks along the river do not have shackled birds. Where fishing prevails, such as around Tempe Reserve, the birds are the inevitable victims of lines irresponsibly discarded around the place. I think of Tempe Reserve as Sick Bay for Ibis.
So back to Sweetie – on the 23rd December we saw her still with her bunch of string. When we visited the next day she flew over & showed us a clean foot. No string! The bundle finally came lose & dropped from around her ankle. What a great Christmas present & a great Christmas Eve! A minimum of 22-months with a string injury, yet she survived. What a spunky little Ibis.
Sweetie has started to lose her head feathers, which means she is turning into an adult, so now she has a chance of a good life. She certainly deserves one. Her toenails also need to be worn down & she will need to recover movement in her bad leg.
From this experience we have met some wonderfully kind people who love our urban wildlife. We have fostered a relationship with the birds of Tempe Reserve & made great friends with a trio of Magpie chicks, which was very special. Here is a short video of them – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il1lXXNUKys
We learnt about the park – which trees are used, who sleeps where, where the good food is & also how the park responds in all weather as we have been caught in many storms. We also have learnt a lot about Ibis, a bird I was not really familiar with before.
We found Ibis to be kind birds. They like to sit quietly with each other, with blue tongue lizards & with other birds. They even like to sit with people if they like you. Injured Ibis support each other & keep each other company.
If I were to say anything about Ibis it is that they like company, whether you have food or not. They also like to hear singing & will cock their head sideways to listen better. They are smart birds & can learn their own name. Most of them can be trained to a degree.
They like to play with twigs & lengths of grass. They also appreciate clean water & will gather in a neat circle near the fresh water tap waiting patiently until it is ready. If there is water in a plastic dish, they will line up allowing each to take their own turn having a drink.
They weigh next to nothing despite their size & are quite strong & fast if they are trapped. They understand what you are doing when you are trying to snip away line or string from their feet & will stay still watching what you are doing. Try to grab their beak though & they will peck you, but this doesn’t hurt. Their beak is not sharp, which is why they have so much trouble with line & string as they cannot cut, only pull. Once you have freed them, they are a friend. Paul has many Ibis friends. I know there will be quite a few people who will be happy to hear that Sweetie is finally free of string.
Some people hate Ibis & call them ‘tip birds’ or worse. I have learnt to love & appreciate them & it has certainly been a great experience getting to know how they think & behave. They love an opportunity for clean water and a wash. And they love walking about in the rain for a free shower.
There is so much discarded fishing line, string, elastic bands, nylon, balloons & other potentially dangerous litter at Tempe Reserve & it is only getting worse. It is so easy for a bird to get their feet entangled in these things. When it does happen it causes immense pain & suffering & most of the time the birds cannot free themselves. As they tug at the string, it pulls tighter causing more pain. So if you see any of these things while out on a walk, please pick them up. You will very likely prevent injury to our wildlife.
I hope you all had a great Christmas Day despite the thunder, lightning & rain. Jacqueline
This is a rant in 3 shades of red. This afternoon we went to Tempe Reserve & were greeted by a shocking sight next to the Jets car park. Someone had dumped a huge amount of extremely mouldy bread rolls, loaves still in their plastic packaging, plus numerous plastic garbage bags & large paper flour bags. Thankfully the bread was too old & too hard for the birds to eat so they were just standing around staring at a pile of inedible food.
How can Marrickville Council possibly manage this type of behaviour from the community? At least twice a week Council staff empty the numerous garbage bins scattered throughout Tempe Reserve. Despite their work & the presence of plenty of garbage bins, litter is everywhere, especially after the weekend. From dumping woodchip & destroying at least two areas of around 25 square metres each of established landscaping, to car engines, to every possible kind of garbage. I’ve even seen the cover of a fluorescent light deep inside the park.
People drink & toss their plastic cups, water or beer bottles & caps onto the grass surrounding the picnic kiosks or into the bushy area. This happens despite a full-sized garbage bin attached to each of the kiosks.
Despite barricades, cars still openly mount the kerb & drive along pedestrian pathways into the park. Some even think that the ‘Circle of Figs’ is for racing & doing wheelies. Where we could have a park that is serene & for everyone, we end up having a parking lot inside the park often with a car radio blaring because people don’t want to walk a short distance carrying their picnic food.
Coal fire barbeques are used every weekend despite Council signage saying not to do this. Burning coals are dumped in the pockets of bush, often against a tree, in the gardens or under the water tap.
Irresponsible fishermen/women leave fishing line on the ground or bundled up in a crevice. The rocks around the foreshore are jam-packed with garbage. When the tide goes down, the sandy bottom of the river is a tapestry of plastic bags.
Deflated balloons can be found all through the park. People have parties & decorate the kiosks. When they leave they do the fun thing & pop the balloons sending bits of plastic balloon flying. They leave the string or they toss it onto the grass because that’s what you do when you are holding something you don’t want anymore.
Problem is that, because of people’s utter disrespect for the environment, the birds that live in Tempe Reserve are suffering from serious injuries & frankly I’m sick of it.
Tempe Reserve is special because it was once a landfill tip & has been transformed into a very beautiful place. It is also large & has different areas for different activities. It’s surrounded on 3 sides by water so you get to see the movement of the tides & the birds that live on the river.
Many people are not so lucky to have this kind of park in their area so why are certain groups of people treating this park so badly. I can understand if they don’t care about the wildlife, but that they don’t care that they are ruining the park for others really surprises me. Perhaps they don’t notice their negative impact because Marrickville Council staff & a small number in the community clean up after them.
Sorry Marrickville Council. I know it is not your fault & that you have provided a great park with plenty of bins, but you need to do something about this quickly because what is happening to the parks along the Cooks River in Marrickville LGA is spiraling out of control. More people than ever use these parks & many travel to come here.
Fishing has become really popular over the last couple of years despite information in the media that the Cooks River has high levels of sewerage & pharmaceutical contamination. Birds like Cormorants, Ibis & gulls are getting seriously hurt with the number of injured birds rising over the last few months. There is no one, except for community volunteers to help the birds, which I think is a serious problem as well.
The Botany Bay foreshore at Brighton le Sands & Kyeemagh is receiving a battering from those who use the area. People lay blankets & put chairs in garden beds & directly on plants. No area in the park is safe from people. I’ve even seen a 4-metre tree pushed over in the sandy soil because it was in the way of picnickers. It won’t be too long before this kind of behaviour starts happening here.
I am unaware if Marrickville Council employs Rangers for our parks. I certainly have never seen one, read about their presence or heard people talk of them. If we do have Rangers for parks, they need to have a visible presence. If we don’t, then I sincerely believe that the budget should be such that allows for Rangers to be employed & for them to have a visible presence on weekends. It is only when people get fined that they will change their behaviour. End of rant.
For brevity, I have not included every point or aim in the action plan.
Tempe Recreation Reserve & Alexandra Canal – This is an area of 18.3 hectares of reclaimed land & provides a range of habitats; freshwater & brackish wetlands & shrubby sandstone vegetation & local & regional connectivity between the Cooks River Corridor & the Alexandra Canal. I could not find what birds & animals benefit from this area in the document, but know from my own sightings that there are land reptiles, small grain, nectar & insect eating birds, wetland birds & flying foxes.
- Spending $25,000pa of an existing budget of $80,000pa to continue maintenance & management & extend maintenance to re-vegetated areas adjoining Alexandra Canal.
- Spending $20,000pa to implement the Cooks River Valley Garden Management Plan, maintain & improve habitat & do under-storey restoration planting along Alexandra Canal.
- Also maintain & improve the Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest remnant known as ‘Container Wetland.’ This is the vast area of land beside residential East Tempe that the planes fly over. It has been a wasted opportunity for substantial habitat for urban wildlife, being mostly weeds with the odd tree that has managed to survive. As it is a visual entrance to Sydney from the air, fixing this area will have another benefit other than just a significant area of habitat for urban wildlife. The area also has the potential to be a carbon sink.
The GreenWay: Cooks River to Iron Cove – The GreenWay provides a 5 km long corridor of relatively connected vegetation between the Cooks River regional shared path/cycleway from Earlwood to the Iron Cove Bay Run at Haberfield. The aim is also to increase dispersal opportunities with Wolli Creek, Cooks River & Alexandra Canal. “Many of the remnant vegetation areas are very small, degraded & infested with noxious & environmental weeds; however, within the context of a highly urbanised environment, this vegetation has potential for enhancement & expansion to improve habitat for urban biodiversity (Eco Logical 2010).” The GreenWay provides habitat for reptiles, small birds & critically endangered Long‐nosed Bandicoots.
- Continued support for the Inner West Environment Group to undertake re-vegetation in the rail corridor.
- Ensure adoption of development controls for the Bandicoot Protection Area & Wildlife Corridor.
- Assist the GreenWay Sustainability Project Team.
- Investigate traffic calming measures along West Street Lewisham & warn drivers of the bandicoots’ presence.
- Target households within the Bandicoot Protection Zone, with special priority for a pilot responsible pet ownership education program.
Fraser Park Marrickville & Tillman Park Sydenham - These two parks offer connectivity as they are on adjoining sides of the railway corridor. The parks & the corridor provide habitat for frogs, moisture dependent reptiles, small grain, nectar & insect eating birds & fast‐flying bats & slow‐flying bats. Interestingly, RailCorp have a Biodiversity Management Plan (2006) outlining the re-vegetation, restoration & maintenance status of rail corridors throughout the Sydney Metropolitan Area. Imagine if all these vast areas were actually put to use & planted with urban wildlife in mind. The rail corridor here is quite large & has good quality, mature stands of native vegetation.
- Flag priority sites with RailCorp that have been identified as ‘excellent re-vegetation’ in their Biodiversity Management Plan 2006.
- Flag lower priority weed sites with RailCorp for staged re-vegetation if opportunity arises. This area appears to be along the goods line.
- Spending $3,000pa to increase density of plantings at the margins of Tillman Park & add freshwater & brackish swamp plantings to the grass swale at the south‐west section.
- Spending $5,000 to re-vegetate the Stormwater Management Systems area with plants appropriate to the freshwater & brackish swamps plant community.
The Urban Habitat Mosaic -This term refers to all parks, reserves, other open
space, streets, road verges, schools, church grounds & backyards in the LGA, as well as Camperdown Cemetery, Marrickville Community Nursery, Camdenville Park & the Bush Pockets sites at Victoria Road & Bedwin Road. These areas, depending where they are in the LGA, provide habitat for Long‐ nosed Bandicoots, Grey‐headed Flying Foxes, frogs, reptiles, nocturnal birds, small grain, nectar & insect eating birds & fast‐flying bats & slow‐flying bats. Although the ‘mosaic’ does not provide much in the way of connectivity, the report says this network may be more permeable to the more highly mobile species & those adapted to urban environments. If we all planted our garden &/or verges with urban wildlife in mind, even if only 1 or 2 plants, we would help significantly by providing much needed food sources & depending on what we plant & how we do it, habitat as well.
- Spending $70,000 for a new position to coordinate management & community engagement around Bush Pockets & verge plantings.
- Spending $5,000 for continued support, maintenance & volunteer activities at existing Bush Pockets sites.
- Incorporate information & guidelines into the Urban Forest Strategy to ensure biodiversity principles are built into street tree masterplanning.
- Spending $10,000 to apply for grant funding to review the Camperdown Cemetery Restoration Strategy (2007 – 2011) & achievements.
Council spent approximately $600,000 for their biodiversity‐related operational budget over the 2010/11 financial year. As for biodiversity with the Marrickville Urban Forest Strategy the report advised -
- Consider the retention of mature trees (native & exotic) as habitat trees where practical, especially if they have hollows, mature or developing exfoliating bark & fruit suitable for Grey‐headed Flying Foxes.
- Minimize the planting of Eucalyptus, Angophora & Corymbia, as these trees increase the density of Noisy Miners.
- Consider the planting of dense shrubs rather than trees for street tree planting, especially within & adjacent to Marrickville’s Priority Biodiversity Areas.
- Food trees for Grey‐headed Flying foxes should be retained where possible, or replaced, & food trees (rainforest trees, Figs) should be incorporated into street tree plantings.
- Consider fencing & retaining trees that have been poisoned or die naturally as these offer habitat.