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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 – http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9140000/9140040.stm

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.

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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 –

http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/photos/gallery/respite-for-auburn-ibiss/

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 – http://digitaledition.innerwestcourier.com.au/

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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