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Ibis work for free aerating the park lawns & playing fields. I think they are a lovely sight down along the Cooks River.

Once again we have an opportunity to help the Office of Environment & Heritage know how many Australian White Ibis we have in Australia & where they are located.

Many people dislike Ibis & call them Bin Chickens because they are often seen picking through garbage.   The truth is that they do have a particular like of your leftovers, particularly takeaway food items.  However, if the Ibis could buy fresh items of takeaway they would.  Instead they are forced to try to reduce landfill or deal with your eatable litter.

They are environmental refugees & because of this, I believe they deserve more tolerance from the community. 

Prior to 1970 they lived in the inland lakes & rivers of NSW.  But tragedy happened with a long persistent drought drying up these places of fresh water.  Then bushfires claimed the large trees they nested in.

So, what does anyone do when their home becomes inhabitable?  They move.  The Ibis flew to the coast & what they found was a life of luxury & easy pickings because humans eat a lot, & throw tons of tasty food away – be it in landfill or in the park.  An Ibis is not concerned with poking about in a bin.  If there is a bit of hamburger down there, he/she wants it.

I often read comments in media & social media about how Ibis terrorize people for food.  Truly, they are not violent birds.  All you need to do is wave your hands or stand up or clap & the Ibis will run away from you as fast as their long skinny pink legs can carry them.  Their long black beak may look intimidating, but it is not a natural behaviour for them to try & poke out the eyes of a human being.  Even when they are being rescued they are desperate to  get away from the person who is trying to remove string or fishing line from their legs or toes.  They are terrified of being too close.

Yes, they stink sometimes, but if they have access to deep enough water they will line up for a chance to have a good long wash.  We also stink if we don’t wash.

They are intelligent, loyal & friendly birds.  If you have been kind to them, they will remember you.  They move around a lot & have been seen all the way down in Victoria & as far as Papua New Guinea.

Probably the biggest misunderstanding I hear often is that they are an exotic species & should go back to Egypt.  They are in fact an Australian native bird.  Egypt has their own Ibis species.

Environment NSW are asking the community to report sightings of Ibis, especially those birds that are wing tagged or have a leg band.  They want to know the numbers of the tags or bands, how many Ibis there are & their behavior.

You can download a free Apple app here –

Or for Android here –

Or you can go directly to the website here –

The survey happens during Bird Week from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th October 2017.

Seen in Gough Whitlam Park 2-3 months ago. WIRES were contacted. Unfortunately Ibis often get their legs & toes entangled in string (even the string from discarded tea bags), fishing line, balloon cords & any kind of cord left in the parks or waterways. Imagine tying something really tight around your toe. You can’t get it off. It causes you horrendous pain for months until either you die from infection or your toe drops off — and you might still die from infection. This is a routine experience for Ibis & other birds, so please do not take or leave these kind of things in the park. TY


String-free for Christmas.  Pity about losing that back toe.

Sweetie the Ibis is string-free for Christmas. Pity about losing that back toe.

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.

Here is the above Ibis with string. Poor girl carried this around for at least 22-months.

Here is Sweetie’s foot with string. Poor girl carried this around for at least 22-months & lost her toe.  This string probably held up birthday balloons.

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.

A severe injury.  This Ibis died.

A severe fishing line injury. This Ibis died after suffering for 2-months.  We did catch him, but were not quick enough to keep him.  One try is all you get with some birds.

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 –

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

Here is Paul the Ibis Rescuer hard at work.

Here is Paul the Ibis Rescuer hard at work.

This is Bumbala having thin nylon removed from around his toes.

This is Bumbala having thin nylon removed from around his toes. 

Another Ibis trailing a length of black nylon string.

Another Ibis trailing a length of black nylon string.


Tempe Reserve today - Christmas Day 2012.   I picked up string from the ground as well as removed string that was tied around the kiosk poles.

Christmas Day 2012 at Tempe Reserve. I picked up string from the ground as well as removed string tied around the kiosk poles.


This is a 10 cm high pile of streamers mixed with fishing line & a balloon collected by                        2 people over 30 minutes at Tempe Reserve this afternoon.

Sometime this weekend someone must have been celebrating something & brought others to share their happiness.  Unfortunately they left a potentially dangerous mess behind.  It took 2 people 30-minutes to collect string, streamers & fishing line from around one kiosk & I am not sure we got it all.

The outcome of bringing things like string, nylon, fishing line, balloons & streamers to a park & leaving them there is far too often, gross pain & suffering for birds – often for many months.  Death may in fact be easier for them.  Heaven knows what happens to those that live in the river when this litter makes its way to the water.  All it takes for that to happen is a stiff wind or some rain.

I am sick of being witness to this suffering of our supposedly protected wildlife, especially as it is totally preventable.   All that is needed is for Marrickville Council to step in & send a Ranger down on weekends & public holidays to educate people & fine them if necessary.  A few educational signs with an image of a bird injured by fishing line would not go astray either.  Neither would an LGA-wide educational campaign using Council’s resources (like rate notices, libraries, Marrickville Matters etc) to tackle littering.

I do not understand why Marrickville Council cannot have staff trained to help wildlife or at the very least, call in a consultant who can.  All the birds have to help them is volunteers from the community wildlife organizations & they are stretched to the limit with a workload that covers the whole of Sydney – or people like us, doing their best.  It’s not good enough.  If Council won’t do anything to catch the birds to get help for them, then they should be doing all they can to prevent this kind of thing happening to the wildlife as a priority.

Do you remember me posting a photo about a poor wounded Ibis in Tempe Reserve? The photo I posted is below.  The first time we saw him fishing line shackled both his legs. Then somehow he managed to break one leg free. He hasn’t been around much & we thought he had died. Today he returned missing 3 toes & still with fishing line as tight as it can be around his ankle. If he is not caught, he will either die or lose his whole foot – or what’s left of it. He shakes with the pain.  Not being trained, we have not been able to successfully catch him.

This is the same Ibis as the close-up of the fishing line injury & amputated toes above, though this photo was taken January 2012.  

The Ring of Figs in Tempe Reserve is quite a beautiful space & perfect for large gatherings

This is how it looked the day after a festival & after 11-hours of cleaning

Last Saturday 14th April, a festival was held in the Ring of Figs at Tempe Reserve.  This is great.  Parks should be areas that bring people together.  It’s what is done in the park & most importantly, the condition the park is left in that concerns me.

Tempe Reserve - 4pm the day after a festival

At 4pm Sunday 15th April we went to Tempe Reserve for a walk & what we saw shocked us.  The area around the picnic kiosks at the western side near the boat harbour had more litter than we have ever seen.  It was strange to see children & adults playing cricket on the pathway literally surrounded by litter.  My pet hate, string, was everywhere & I am not exaggerating.

We walked to the Ring of Figs & were greeted by an even more shocking landscape.  It is hard to describe.  Imagine a huge circle of grass & everywhere you looked was litter.  Great piles of plastic food containers, some with left over food spilling out of them, plastic cups, plates, cutlery.  Hundreds of plastic electrical cable ties were everywhere.  I saw an Ibis trip & went over to see why. Lengths of string & tinsel were scattered around.

Two women armed with plastic garbage bags & gloves were working incredibly hard picking up the litter.   I spoke to them & learnt that they had arrived at 10pm the night before, picking up litter until 3am.  They had returned at 10am & it was now 4pm.   That’s 11-hours picking up litter & they were likely going to continue until sunset.  In my estimation they would have needed to work another few hours to remove all the bits of tissue, plastic cable ties (I think these held the tents together) & other bits of garbage, much of which had scattered outside the Ring of Figs area.

We returned on the following Wednesday 18th & there was a still lot of mess, though most had been mown over. An issue of concern for me is the sharp bits of plastic as these can hurt bare feet so if you use this area, I’d recommend wearing shoes. Gone are the days when we can take off our shoes in the park.

Every week a surprising number of local residents spend some time picking up litter, discarded fishing line as well as string from food, birthday presents & party balloons from Tempe Reserve.  Each week there is more.  I’ve come to accept that many of the users of this park do not respect the park, the river or the environment. This will not change until Marrickville Council employs a couple of Rangers to educate & fine people if necessary.  Once people learn that their behaviour can cost them money, they will stop treating the park like the dump it once was.

Seeing the condition of Tempe Reserve last Sunday was like the last straw for me.  How can the community keep up when the park is trashed like this?    How can wildlife cope when the park becomes a dangerous place for them? If you leave any park in a mess like this, there are very likely to be consequences for wildlife.  Surely, improving biodiversity means providing safe environments for wildlife?

Today is Earth Day & possibly the right time to talk about what has been happening for months at Tempe Reserve.  Last October 2011 we noticed an Ibis in trouble.  On inspection we saw that she had string netting caught around & under her foot.  See photo below.

The arrow points to string that has imbedded into the skin of an Ibis with the bulk tangled around her back toe.

Then we looked at the feet of the other Ibis & what we saw was very distressing.  Many of the Ibis who hang about Tempe Reserve every day have string or fishing line wrapped around their feet.  They hobble around in obvious pain.  The worst was a male who would come near us & show us what was wrong by nipping at the fishing line that had shackled both legs together.  Somehow he or another Ibis managed to break the shackle (they do help each other), but 4 months later he is still in terrible pain with line tightly embedded around his toes & ankle.  The photo is too bad to publish.

Not having any experience in catching wild birds we called government & wildlife agencies for help. We even contacted TV animal rescue programs.  No one, including Marrickville Council could help.   Their unwillingness to help was threefold: wild birds, lack of resources & the fact that they were Ibis. We eventually got lucky because the local WIRES women came.

Another example of string injury in Tempe Reserve. This is totally preventable.

Our local WIRES group are volunteers who work countless hours with extremely limited funds rescuing birds, reptiles & bats & other urban wildlife from all sorts of situations.  They spend a lot of time rescuing bats from barbed wire. Many have to be euthanized because their wings are so badly torn.   Often they have babies with them & these babies are hand-reared by WIRES volunteers until they can be released.  I’ve seen home videos that had me sobbing because of the sweet, loving actions of a mother bat dying just after giving birth, loving her baby until her last breath. You can call me weird.  I have no shame being an animal lover.

The WIRES women came to Tempe Reserve on many occasions.  They also used their contacts & brought in a wildlife rescue officer from the RSPCA.  Volunteers from Seabird Rescue came as well. Together we have caught some birds & removed the string or fishing line, but there are more to go & new injuries happened over summer.

This length of fishing line had 2 full bags of poo tied at each end telling me that this was a deliberate act meant to cause harm to birds.

The clean up of Tempe Reserve on Clean Up Australia Day happened as a result of learning about the state of this park & to try & make it safer for the wildlife.  We will do it twice a year from now on.

Last Thursday 17th April 2012 a Mayoral Minute was included in the Council Meeting agenda. This was a request from the same organization that held the event in the Ring of Figs on 14th April.  They were asking for financial assistance of $1,000 from Marrickville Council to help pay the hire fee of $1800.  This was granted as it has been in previous years.

I downloaded the application form to hire parks in Marrickville LGA. In it Marrickville Council says – “Page 2: The cost to restore any damage to the reserve/park area as a result of the activities of the event will be borne by the hirer/organiser.  Any damage caused to turf surfaces as result of use during or shortly after inclement weather or inappropriate use will be charged to the hirer/organiser at cost.  Page 5: b) Please outline the cleaning management strategy in place to ensure the event site is clear of waste following the event. (if the site is not left clean the organiser will be charged cleaning expenses).  Page 15:  All facilities, amenities & area MUST be left in a clean & tidy condition at the conclusion of the event devoid of all rubbish & debris. A fee will be charged for any cleanup works required following the event.”

This may be well & good. But it does not seem to have worked in this case & in our observations has not worked in other cases. Where communities that use our public parks choose to behave in such appalling ways there needs to be actual enforcement of the threat inherent in the conditions of hire. To have that, Council needs to have Rangers who will visit the park during such events, & after, in order to check the state of the park & actually enforce proper standards.

More importantly, it is incumbent on Council to make it a condition on the hirers they make announcements through the day their communities use our public facilities about respect for the facilities, respect for wildlife & ensuring the facilities are left clean.  Education of the disrespectful sections of the community is Council’s responsibility on behalf of all ratepayers.  Our Council should show leadership by actually taking real measures for positive change.

Imagine what Marrickville Council would do if a community group left the lovely timber floor of Petersham Town Hall covered in masses of filth & litter after their event.  Why should our parks be treated differently?  Today is Earth Day – we should care about these things.

A small part of the litter near the picnic kiosks last Sunday.

The Hire Form mentions damage to turf surfaces

Another pile of garbage in the Ring of Figs - photo taken around 4pm the day after the festival. You can imagine how bad the park looked before the 11-hours of cleaning.

Kristina who left a comment below sent this photo she took at Manly recently.

Absent: Clr Iskandar.  The following Is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine. To reduce the length of this post I will mostly remove “he said/she said” with the comments coming after the speaker’s name.

Question on Notice: Council costs associated with the boycott of Israel – 3 residents, who identified as Jewish, spoke against the BDS & asked Council to reconsider the boycott.  In summary, they said the BDS is a one-sided policy with no

Cockatoo eating a Sunflower

instances of inclusion, co-operation or serious desire for peace. It divides our community with the Aboriginal & Jewish community feeling excluded & like second-class citizens. Council should instead do peace projects & volunteer dental programs as examples & share our religious festivals.  One speaker said, I do get offended when people say that unless you believe in the BDS you don’t believe in social justice. With the BDS, you are against social justice. A local school has decided to boycott Marrickville Council activities.  One speaker asked, are we really debating middle-eastern politics in Marrickville Council? Another, Do you want to be the generation of Councillors to cause division in the community?

2 residents, 1 who identified as Jewish, spoke in support of the BDS saying it’s causing discussion in our community & is a peaceful boycott.  It doesn’t target Israeli people, rather Israeli state policies. Israel is consistent in defying international law & there are Australians who think that Palestinians deserve a fair go. It’s sad that so many Jews can’t support Palestinian human rights. The Jews are not under threat. It’s not about anti-Semitism or excluding Jews, it’s about human rights.  Because it was a Question on Notice, Councillors did not debate.

Leasing the Coptic Church Tempe – There were 2 applicants: The Anglican Catholic Church Original Province & The Coptic Orthodox Church Heritage Trust.  The Bishop for the Australian & NZ Anglican Church spoke: 3-years ago we asked Council if we could hire the Coptic Church. He spoke about the use of the church for the community with 45% of the church’s communicants being under 18-years of age. This centre is important because it’s at the gateway to Australia.  The second speaker from The Coptic Orthodox Church Heritage Trust arrived late so did not speak. The old Coptic Church now gets a new lease of life with Council deciding which of the 2 applicants will use the site.

Rescission Motion against a new park for Marrickville: Clrs Tsardoulias, Iskandar & Macri put in a Rescission Motion (RM) to stop staff looking into the feasibility of a park in front of the planned new library at the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads Marrickville. The space is currently a car park & a green area with many large trees.   See – I spoke against the RM.

Clr Tsardoulias: Supporting the RM. The Greens delayed the building for 6-years. Council have spent thousands on the Masterplan & to do the park we will give away affordable housing.

Clr Thanos: Opposing the RM. The delay wasn’t caused by the Greens. The assessment of the space showed that it would need a 10-storey building to have both the library & the Civic Centre there. I proposed an 11-storey building that wasn’t supported.  Now Council has to decide whether the library or the Civic centre goes there. We should not stack the site with buildings. We should maintain some green space. People are always telling me it’s needed.  We would be the only Council in the last 50-years that can deliver a park & it will be very difficult to do this in the future. The motion was to check the feasibility for this.

Families of protected Ibis live in the Canary Island Palm trees on the Marrickville site being nominated for a new park

Clr Phillips: Opposing the RM. Astounded that Clr Tsardoulias thought he was shut down in the debate as the Mayor put up an extraordinary Council Meeting that no-one, but the Greens attended. Here we are talking about a 9-storey building on a unique piece of land some way from the Cooks River. We have the lowest green space in Australia. It will be a great gateway to the new library & it’s a good thing for the community.

Clr Wright: Supporting the RM. Great concern about process. We have spent time & money & the Masterplan has been devised. If you remove 1 aspect, all aspects are up for option. It’s an opportunistic & ad hoc approach to delivering a park. A corner is not a good location for a park & it’s on the library’s back side.

Clr Olive: Opposing the RM. Clr Tsardoulias alleges that the Greens have delayed this for 6 years, the Greens have only had decision making powers for 1 year over the past 6 years. Clr Tsardoulias delayed this by his RM & asked that a report be put in by February, but your RM stopped staff from working on this.  A park on a corner is a good outcome. It’s not an ad hoc process. The Greens were consistent in the LEP discussion. We thought large buildings were unacceptable to the community. Including a park is viable.

Clr O’Sullivan: Supporting the RM. It’s not the best place for a park. It’s a busy road. Seems there is an obsession with height & some of the Greens councilors would have had a protest about St Bridget’s tower. This is the 5th or 6th consultancy of this & the key things the Greens always leave out are integrated planning & issues of design. Stick with what we have got & build low-income homes in the centre of the city.

View of the site for the proposed new park in Marrickville

Clr Macri: Supporting the RM. Residents are upset at the amount of time this site has remained idle. We were looking at the hospital building as the library so open space would have been on the Lilydale Street side. It’s not aesthetically pleasing on a busy corner. We take trees down as it suits us – 48 were removed for the Enmore Pool. We have an LEP, no-one has said anything about increasing space for a park. I don’t want things unused & people & children so close to traffic.

Clr Hanna: Supporting the RM. This is the most expensive land in Marrickville & you want to destroy it. This land can make Marrickville Council one of the richest Councils in Australia. We have to do a Masterplan for this site.

Clr Kontellis: Opposing the RM. Councillors were in support of the motion last December. We only added Point 4 asking, can we add another level, can we have a little more information so we can make an informed decision? I don’t believe this RM is in the best interest of the people of Marrickville.

Clr Peters: Opposing the RM. It’s glaringly obvious that Clr Hanna sees this land as a goldmine. I see it for the future of our community that doesn’t have much open land. The land isn’t here to build & sell housing on. Regarding parks on corners; look at Hyde Park, Enmore Park or Central Park in NYC. Most parks in built-up areas are near traffic. It’s not away in an industrial area, it’s opposite bus stops, a church & a very popular restaurant.  We have to think of the future, this is community profit that people can use.

Mayor Byrne: Opposing the RM. I believe previous Councils meant to work on this land for the community. We were gifted with Tempe Tip & we have done a great job on Tempe Reserve.  The hospital site is a main project on its own. It has opportunity & capacity. This RM will not allow us to see what this property can deliver. What was moved & adopted by Council is to ask, is it feasible on the whole site to have a park & let’s see what information we get back.  If the report says it will create problems with the viability for other projects on the site, then we won’t pursue it.

Clr Tsardoulias then read out the names of Greens Councillors who voted against aspects of this site from what he said was the Minutes of the last 6-years & said, I moved this RM because you shut me out.

Clr Thanos: When Clr Tsardoulias was not allowed to speak the debate had been closed.

Clr Tsardoulias: Putting a park here goes against affordable housing. We have got a crisis in the community. Kiss goodbye to the library & affordable housing. You are not thinking of the ratepayers. It’s financially unviable to do this as we only have $2 million in reserve.

Clrs Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Hanna & Macri voted for the RM. Clrs Thanos, Olive, Peters, Kontellis, Phillips & Byrnes voted against it. The RM was lost.

To keep the size of this report manageable, I will write about the other items of interest in a separate post. Here ends Report from the Gallery Part 1.

Proposed site for the new park in Marrickville

Ibis nesting high up in the trees

We discovered this park a couple of months ago & what a discovery it was.  If you are into nature, a bit of bush, water, birds & walking, this is a great place for a wander.   The sign says it was opened for the bicentenary in 1988. The park is divided into 3 sections known as North, South & East. This post is about East & North Bicentennial Park. We have yet to visit South Bicentennial Park, which looks more of a wild park as it’s part of wetlands. It’s a big place that joins with Scarborough Park, which has its own North, East, South & Central. Scarborough Park Central is more like a regular park with playing fields & a skate park filled with talented kids.

View from one part of the walk

If you wander through the playing fields to the bank of trees, you find yourself entering a bush area filled with trees. Many of the trees are quite substantial in girth & height & must be a few decades old.

A ring of moving water does an oval journey around a couple of islands before it travels to a wetland lake in South Bicentennial Park on the other side of President Avenue.  The islands are filled with natural bush & trees. Many of the trees have Ibis nests high up in the branches with families of Ibis perching. It’s quite a sight.

The sound from baby birds trilling, as only Ibis do, was lovely.  There were also wild ducks & geese when we were there.  The path around the islands & to the pedestrian bridge is a wide path of mown grass, no concrete anywhere, which feels like a luxury these days.

Bridge over the water near the car park

It’s safe with enough people with dogs walking around to know that someone would hear you if you needed help, yet you are far enough away from the traffic & the sight of buildings to feel you are anywhere other than in the Inner South East of Sydney. The terrain is mostly flat, suitable for a pram, but not a wheelchair. However, there is a car park near the water & a pedestrian bridge that is suitable for a wheelchair.

It’s a fabulous place for a walk or a picnic as there are plenty of shady places to lay a blanket & watch the birds & other wildlife. There are also plenty of places for the kids to have a run or explore.  The skate park is part of Scarborough Park. When we were there it was filled with kids & I watched while they took turns allowing the little less experienced or younger children have a go before they did their runs & leaps into the air.

Another view along the path

Rockdale Council has done a very great thing with this group of parks.  They have ensured that there is something for everyone whilst protecting areas purely for wildlife habitat.  The map shows they have protected & worked on a significant wildlife corridor that is perfect habitat for water birds.  I think they should be commended for this. In the past the area would have been drained, filled in & housing built on it or the park would have been made accessible for people from corner to corner with the wildlife having to make do. That this area has been made a wildlife sanctuary is a wonderful thing.  We loved the place & will go again because there is a lot to see.


Big news yesterday was that birds have a blind spot.  This fact was discovered by scientists from the Centre for Ornithology at the University of Birmingham in the UK & published in the Biological Conservation Journal.

The blind spot in their vision means that birds cannot see obstacles straight ahead when they tilt their heads downwards in flight.  Looking downwards is something birds do naturally when looking at other birds, trees, places to land & food sources. Millions of recorded bird deaths occur each year due to birds hitting powerlines due to this blind spot. Therefore, changing the appearance of power lines by adding reflectors or colour will not help.

Behind this beautiful Camphor laurel is the carpark on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads. The barbed wire fence separates these two areas. The Palms where the Ibis live are a few metres away

On the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads is a flat space of bitumen used as a carpark. On the far side there is a wire fence topped with barbed wire. Presumably the function of the fence is to stop people going into the old hospital site.

Last Wednesday, a woman brought an injured Ibis to the Livingstone Road Animal Health Centre.  She had done something quite brave & in her words very difficult by untangling a living & injured Ibis from the barbed wire on top of the fence next to the carpark.  She said she rang Marrickville Council who told her they are not responsible for things like this & suggested she ring WIRES. She did, but they were unable to send anyone for 2 hours.

Unwilling to allow the bird to continue causing itself more pain, suffering & injury, she worked with another woman to release the Ibis from the barbed wire.  By the time she arrived at the Vet she was looking a little shocked, which is understandable as I imagine it was quite an ordeal.

The Livingstone Road Animal Health Centre had no hesitation in taking the bird as they have a strong ethos regarding urban wildlife & animals in general.  There was some hope from the Vet that the bird could be saved with some surgery, but unfortunately the injuries were too severe & the Ibis had to be put down.

This particular location where the Ibis was injured has numerous Palm trees & a very large & beautiful Camphor laurel.   The Ibis have taken up residence in the Palms since the drought forced them all to move to the city in search of food & water.

As there are families of birds living just above & in the near vicinity of the barbed wire fence I wonder whether the barbed wire should be there at all. I would suggest that birds have a blind spot when it comes to barbed wire strung across fences as well.

In the grounds behind the carpark is this food stall offering free food for homeless people. Behind this stall is also barbed wire on top of a wire fence. The birds live in front of the tree on the left

In my opinion barbed wire fences look ugly & presents a danger to the community. I know barbed wire fences signal ‘keep out,’ but in reality, who listens to that. We all know that it is very easy to get over a barbed wire fence. All you need is a jacket that you don’t care too much about. The odd hole can give it a grunge look, which is very popular anyway.  A pair of wire cutters will get you through a wire fence in under a minute.

I think that Marrickville Council should remove the barbed wire component of this fence as it presents a danger to both people & birds. A fence without barbed wire makes entry difficult enough & this fence in particular only has worth as a visual deterrent.

I would very much like it if Marrickville Council thought the death of Ibis warranted the removal of the barbed wire. I know that the two women who rescued this bird were very angry that barbed wire was there.

The Department of Environment & Climate Change say this about Ibis (bold is my emphasis)  –

  • Ibis are protected under the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974.
  • Aerial surveys conducted over eastern Australia since 1983 indicate that numbers of Australian White Ibis have decreased dramatically in the inland river systems.
  • Management of breeding populations should proceed with caution to be cared for on a whole population basis, across the landscape, to avoid the plight of the Sacred Ibis. (extinct)
  • Caution is required in managing large breeding colonies in urban areas as there is potential to cause considerable impact on the national status of the species.
  • Community awareness, understanding & assistance are required to help protect ibis from threats & to care for waterbird populations as part of a broader landscape view.
  • Ibis can also enhance our local environment. They do a great job aerating the soil while they probe for insects on our playing fields & public parks. (& the Cooks River bed at low tide)

To read the article about the blind spot in birds –

The Ibis live in these Palms & in some of the trees opposite in the grounds of St Bridget's Church

This is the most magnificent Camphor laurel tree I have seen in Marrickville LGA. In fact it is one of the better trees we have. The picture does not do it justice. I just hope that Marrickville Council will not advocate for its removal as they consider these trees environmental weeds. This may be true for rural areas, but not so in urban areas. We have proof that they are not because the area has not been overrun with Camphor laurels. This tree does far more good than harm.

On 24th June 2010 I saw an item in the Inner West Courier saying, “A last minute appeal from WIRES has postponed tree surgeons felling trees containing Ibis nests in an Auburn car park.” Harvey Norman, the retail store & owners of the car park, agreed to wait 2 weeks for the fledglings to leave the nest. There was no further information except for a gallery of photos –

A Google search failed to find anything further about this story. In today’s issue of the Inner West Courier there is an article saying workers who arrived to chop down 2 palm trees in Harvey Norman’s car park rang WIRES for help when they saw many baby Ibis. Despite care, during the removal, one baby fell from the nest breaking its leg & will have to be euthanized. All up, 9 baby birds were removed from the tree & taken into human care to be raised & then released when they are old enough. Another 12 Ibis will be able to stay a further 2 weeks as was negotiated by WIRES with Harvey Norman retail store Auburn. Page 7 –

Fabulous almost cement-free car park in Croyden with a shade tree for every 2 spaces. Rain gets to be absorbed into the ground rather than washing down storm water drains.

Is there something wrong with me? Why remove 2 Palms in a car park? We need trees to at least break up some of the grey infrastructure in a car park.  A car space either side of the 2 Palms could have been made into a garden so that Ibis poo didn’t fall on parked cars. Sure these birds are messy, but I have stood beneath a number of trees located on grass where Ibis nest & there is no mess to speak of.  Concrete is a different matter.

The workers sent to remove these trees & WIRES deserve applause for doing what they could do help these birds.  Thing is, I don’t believe it was necessary for them to go in the first place.  WIRES constantly have to deal with people & organizations who want what they want at the cost of habitat for wildlife & often resulting in the death of wildlife.

That WIRES had to remove 9 chicks from their parents to be reared by humans before being released is pretty sad.  It’s not as though the chicks didn’t have parents. They did, but for the sake of a neat car park that Harvey Norman wanted now, the adult birds had to lose their chicks & the chicks lose their parents.  This would be okay if you believe that only human beings have emotions.

I know people don’t like Ibis, but remember, they migrated to

Ibis eating at low tide at the Cooks River Marrickville

Sydney because of the drought. They had to come because they had nothing to eat or drink.  Could you expect them to do anything different?

Harvey Norman in Auburn caused all this simply for a nice, neat treeless car park.  Cement wins once again.  The time will come in the future where people will respect commercial businesses that make space & create or keep habitat to share with urban wildlife.  Right now, few people probably care, but to me, this whole affair stinks & is cruel. No wonder there was no information to be found on the net.  I wouldn’t imagine that Harvey Norman would really want people to know about this as it may negatively impact on their image.  I thank the Inner West Courier for bringing this issue to the attention of the public & to WIRES & the other workers who did what they could to help these poor birds.



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