You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Cooks River’ tag.

One of three Environmental Vandalism signs put up by Inner West Council

It seems some have missed the beauty of the Cooks River.  Rather than pay a tipping fee, they think it is okay to sneak up the pedestrian path & dump a trailer load or three of building rubble into the river.   It is such a shame that a small financial gain for the vandal destroys our precious river environment.

The former Marrickville Council has worked for years to improve the health & ecology of the river, as have other Councils along the river.   Community group The Mudcrabs have also spent countless hours planting the riverbank & cleaning litter from the river.  I doubt whoever the vandal is has ever thought about this.

To protect our river & to stop this happening again, the Inner West Council needs to install bollards/gates at all entrance points.  Of course, these can allow entry to Council vehicles, but anyone else – no.   Not doing this means that Council runs the risk of someone dumping chemicals or other toxic substances into the river & causing a mass killing event of those creatures that live in the river.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

I thank Council for their speed in acting & for the community education by way of signs.  It is good for people to know about this.  I also hope the dumped debris is cleaned up fast.

Dumped into the Cooks River at Marrickville.  This does matter.  Photo taken at low tide. 

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The moment of eye contact

Now I turn around and show you my back.

I ride up & down the Cooks River often & I am always on the lookout for birds. So, it was with great delight that I watched what I thought was a darter doing a magnificent display in the middle of the river.

It appeared to be washing.  Once the bird realised that it was being watched it became more demonstrative literally heaving itself out of the water, using its tail feather like a rudder & flapping its massive wings.    It did a range of movements for approximately 3-minutes.  Once it finished, it lifted itself out of the water & flew downriver.

Once home I got to have a closer look at my photographs & decided it looked more like a great cormorant than a darter.  An ornithologist friend confirmed my identification.

I am sure others have seen great cormorants on the river, but for us, this was a first-time sighting.

The great cormorant is an excellent swimmer.  It chases fish by propelling itself underwater with its feet  & holding its wings close to its body.  It can stay underwater for up to one minute.

The more we take care of the river, the more we are rewarded with sights like this.

Getting ready

I am about to stand up

A bad photo unfortunately. Those wings were beating fast. Look at the strength to rise up out of the water like this.

And here I come down into the water again. Look at those beautiful wings.

Little Black cormorant, a couple of gulls and a plastic bag at Fatima Island in the Cooks River. Look and you will see plastic bags caught in the branches of the mangroves all along the length of the river.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan stated that WA will ban single-use plastic bags from 1st July 2018.   The war against plastic bags is catching with Western Australia joining the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania & the Australian Capital Territory who have all decided to make their state & territory single-use plastic bag free.

Clean Up Australia says,

  • “It is estimated worldwide that 1 trillion bags are used and discarded every year.
  • Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 20 million new bags being used every day. 
  • An estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.
  • Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute or 429,000 bags every hour.
  • It is estimated that around 50 million bags enter the Australian litter stream every year. Unless they are collected, they remain in the environment and accumulate at a staggering rate. If these 50 million plastic bags were made into a single plastic sheet, it would be big enough to cover the Melbourne CBD.”

Plastic bags are made from crude oil – a finite source.  To create enough plastic bags for humans to use over a 12-month period requires 100 million barrels of oil.

It is also estimated that it will take each plastic bag approximately 400-years to biodegrade, which is disgusting when you think of the 1 trillion bags that are used & discarded every year worldwide.

Plastic bags often end up as litter & enter our waterways & oceans.  Once there, they are mistaken for jelly fish by some seabirds & turtles who eat them, then suffer blocked gastrointestinal tracks & basically starve to death.

Birds often try to use the bags as nesting material.  If the bag gets caught around their beak, wings or legs, it can prevent them from eating, cause an infection, amputate their feet or toes killing them quickly or painfully slowly.

Plastic bags, like all plastic, breaks down into micro-particles & is eaten by birds, animals & fish, entering the food chain.  It is expected that there will be more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish by 2050.  This is a terrible legacy to be leaving future generations.

The environment needs us to dump plastic bag use, as do the wildlife & also for ourselves, as ingesting micro-plastics will have a negative impact on our health.

2017 research by the University of Ghent in Belgium “believe Europeans currently consume up to 11,000 pieces of plastic in their food each year & that 99 percent of them pass through the body, but the remaining 1 percent, which equates to about 60 particles, is absorbed into the body’s tissues and will accumulate over time.”  http://bit.ly/2jURaFc

A few years ago, I asked Marrickville Council whether they would consider banning plastic bags in the municipality & was told something along the lines that the issue had been considered, but it was felt it would not work because people would just go buy plastic bags from the supermarket.  However, the culture is changing & with whole states/territories across Australia having made the decision to ban single-use plastic bags, it will not be too long before we can expect NSW & the other states to follow their example.  I think we can realistically expect the Inner West Council to embrace this initiative now or very soon.  They could follow Western Australia with a July 2018 start.

There is already ground root aspiration to make the Dulwich HilI shopping strip plastic bag free with local volunteers busy making shopping bags for the Boomerang Bags initiative either at home or meeting at Reverse Garbage for monthly sew-a-thons.  It is highly commendable & I wish it would take off for all our local shopping strips & Marrickville Metro who gets through something like 24,000 bags every week.  Don’t quote me though.  It may be 24,000 bags every day.  You can see the signs about plastic bag usage on the pillars in the Metro car park.

Plastic bags can’t be recycled the usual way because the they jam machinery at recycling depots.  They can however be taken to the REDcycle collection bins at the supermarket for recycling into plastic signs & outdoor furniture.  However, if all the plastic bags were recycled this way, there would be excess of what is needed for signs & furniture, so better not to use them at all.

Ultimately I believe we will be forced to stop using single-use plastic bags, so we might as well embrace the alternatives before this happens.   Shopping bags are super easy to make & cheap to buy.  The hardest thing will be to remember to take them with us, but even that will become second nature in a very short while.

The Cooks River at the Cooks River Foreshore Marrickville today.

We like to think of ourselves as being environmentally green in Marrickville, but this is going too far.  I have no idea what is causing the water to be this colour & have reported to Sydney Water, Inner West Council & local group, the Cooks River Valley Association.  Maybe it is n early stage of blue-green algae.  I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look right.

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay.

A 2-minute video by the NSW Environment Protection Authority titled ‘Hey Tosser – GPS tracked bottles’ shows how far plastic bottles travel along a range of waterways in Sydney, including the Cooks River.  It is quite incredible.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7ZDl1_PE8

New raised walkway/cycleway at the Illawarra Road bridge on the Undercliffe side.  Previously one needed to pick up their bike and carry it up three stepped ramps.  It was not easy.   

It was great to see the newly opened raised walkway/cycleway on the Undercliffe side of the Cooks River at Illawarra Road.  This was a difficult place to negotiate bicycles, especially if they were heavy.   Tight corners are no more with a slick graded slope raised walkway/cycleway.  It looks good.

I shall miss the decaying tree trunk beside the river, but to see the significant erosion taken care of with lots of sandstone is very pleasing.  It is great to see the asparagus fern gone too.   I’ve been looking at that plant for nearly 20-years.

I hope the storm water drain gets fitted with a pollution trap to catch street litter.  Hopefully, they still intend to do this.  Far too many storm water drains along the river are open to the river.  One day pollution traps will be seen as mandatory & people will wonder why this wasn’t always the case.  One only needs to look at the plastic drink bottles & other litter to see how needed pollution traps are.

Overall this is a boon for the community & for the river.

A side view of the walkway, plus showing the erosion control using sandstone.   The storm water outlet is on the right.

New storm water outlet at the Illawarra Road Bridge Undercliffe. It’s nice, but it needs a pollution trap in my opinion.

This is the same site – photo taken 2012.  The roots of decayed tree trunk can just be seen on the right.  Hopefully, the mangroves will grow back.  The bottles & other litter collected by a Cooks River Tosser came from this small section visible in the photo, which clearly demonstrates the need for a pollution trap.  

The beautiful Cooks River

This is a free talk by Professor Ian Tyrrell, a local resident, academic & environmentalist who is writing a book on the history of the Cooks River since white settlement.  This event is organised by The Cooks River Valley Association.  

WHEN:          Tuesday 20th June 2017

WHERE:        School hall, Marrickville West Public School, corner Livingstone Road & Beauchamp Street Marrickville.

TIME:             7pm

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Very exciting to see a video of a shark swimming up the Alexandra Canal at Mascot yesterday.    Apparently, it headed back to the Cooks River, which is a good thing because the water is awfully shallow where it was.

You can watch the video taken by Simon Dilosa here –

https://www.facebook.com/dorsalaus/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland three weeks ago with much of the pond area covered with netting.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland three weeks ago with much of the pond area covered with netting.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland last Sunday.  It's a jungle in there.

Cup and Saucer Creek Wetland last Sunday. It’s a jungle in there.

Something interesting is happening at Cup & Saucer Creek Wetland, but I don’t know what.  It is obvious that work is being done because the pond has been drained & large areas have been covered with netting.  It was like this three weeks ago & everything had grown into jungle-like proportions by last weekend.

Canterbury Council holds regular working bees in the wetland & are looking for new volunteers.  To register your interest & for more information about how you can get involved, call Council on 9707 9000.

The pond closest to the river is green with algae.

The pond closest to the river is green with algae.

I am posting these photos purely to counterbalance yesterday’s post.  Having access to a river makes us a very fortunate community in my opinion.  Even better is the waterbirds & other wildlife that we come across when we are lucky.   Here is what we saw today during a short bicycle ride.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I've not seen so many together before. One the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I’ve not seen so many together before. On the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

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