12 Months of Baseline Fauna Surveys
The Elsternwick Park Association, in collaboration with Bayside Council, Birdlife Australia (Bayside branch) and Wildlife Victoria, is conducting 12 months of Baseline Fauna Surveys.
The purpose of these surveys is as follows:
1. To provide a robust set of data, so that the future success of the redevelopment of the reserve
can be judged from a biodiversity perspective.
2. To understand the prevalence of nuisance and pest species to inform
- Short term park management
- Medium and long term design and management implications
3. Provide data on existing fauna of significance to allow the implementation of conservation and management strategies as reserve is developed.
4. To engage the community generally in reserve development.
Our survey calendar is available here:
Please note, the surveys are weather dependent and subject to change.
If you are interested in being part of one or more of the survey teams, please become a member of the Elsternwick Park Association and contact us via email on ElsternwickParkAssociation@gmail.com
Rakali Community Sightings
As part of the 12 month baseline fauna surveys, we are conducting a community sighting Rakali survey.
These elusive animals are our native water rats. They were once abundant throughout Eastern Australia but were hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th Century. They are semiaquatic mammals and are known to be resident in small numbers around the St Kilda Break water, along the canal and more recently, during our first night survey, we had our first formal sighting in the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve.
For more information:
Some Facts About Rakali
The scientific name for the Water-rat or Rakali is Hydromys chrysogaster meaning "water-mouse with golden belly". It’s a lovely description though not always accurate as there can be considerable variations in coat colour, and some don't have a golden belly. Colour ranges from Black/dark brown with a golden or orange underside to Grey/brown with a creamy white underside. They are also considerably bigger than a mouse! In May 2006, during the Bayside Rakali Survey, one male tipped the scales at over a kilo, or 1120 grams to be exact.
Rakali, like the platypus are highly adapted for aquatic life, and together these two species are the most specialised amphibious Australian mammals. Rakali have partially webbed hind feet, small retractable ears, and fur with a dense water-repellent underlayer. Their tail is often as long as the body and is thick and well covered by dark hair, usually with a prominent white tip. The rakali’s tail acts like a rudder when they are swimming or diving for food.
Rakali are extremely versatile hunters, taking most of their food from the water. The diet consists of large aquatic insects, small fish, yabbies and even birds in an aquatic habitat, and crabs, worms, mussels and fish from a marine habitat. Sometimes they can be seen scavenging fresh fish remains from fishermen’s catches. Food is often carried to and consumed on a feeding platform close to the waters edge. Remains of a meal consisting of inedible items such as shells and crustacean carapaces are left as ‘Middens’ on these feeding platforms.
Rakali can be found throughout much of Australia and Papua New Guinea. They inhabit streams, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, bays and offshore islands in both fresh and salt water. In the City of Port Phillip where we focus our survey activities rakali can be found in St Kilda Harbour, Elwood Canal, Albert Park Lake and Port Melbourne foreshore. They don't stray too far from water but have been observed on the top of the St Kilda Breakwater, St Kilda Pier and on Elwood Canal foot path.
The best time to observe Rakali is just a little before sunset - though some observers have seen them foraging during the daytime.
Elsternwick Park Love Our Streets
The Elsternwick Park Association is collaborating with Love Our Streets to keep the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve, clean and free of litter.
We meet in the reserve, on the Elwood side of the wetlands on the first Sunday of every month at 10:30am. Please feel free to join us and bring family and friends