Birdwatching Update January 2022

Happy New Year to all of our WTP birdwatchers and YourSay followers

Despite living in continuing uncertain times, we hope you have had a restful break and if you are a birdwatching permit holder have been able to get onsite to enjoy this popular time of year for birdwatching.

In this update, you will learn about:

  • Record numbers of Australian Shelducks
  • Important summer birdwatching safety news
  • Intertidal fishing restrictions and what to do if you see any illegal fishing activity

Australian Shelducks in record numbers

You might have been fortunate to have seen our Australian Shelducks in record numbers this season. In December, the Arthur Rylah Institute recorded the highest ever count of Australian Shelducks at WTP of approximately 80,000. See some images below captured by our staff.

Staying safe whilst birdwatching in summer

As summer is a peak season for birdwatching we want to take this opportunity to remind you to stay safe whilst visiting:

COVID-19 safe practices and requirements

  • Birdwatchers are expected to abide by Melbourne Water’s COVID-safe practices, including Melbourne Water’s updated COVID-19 vaccination policy.
  • To access the site, birdwatchers must maintain a current vaccination status, which means that an individual has received both an initial vaccination against COVID-19 and any subsequent vaccinations or boosters that are required or recommended by the Australian Commonwealth Government or a state or territory government to maintain immunity against COVID-19.
  • Birdwatchers, including guests of permit holders, are also expected to individually sign in when entering the site by scanning a QR code. Signage explaining this process is positioned at each entry to the site.

Reporting sick or deceased birdlife

  • During warmer weather, there is an increased risk of avian botulism. Avian botulism, also known as limber-neck, forage poisoning or carrion poisoning, is a type of disease that affects birds. Ducks are most frequently affected, but all waterbirds (e.g. pelicans, gulls, shorebirds, geese and swans) and several other bird groups are known to be susceptible.
  • To assist us, if you see any sick or recently deceased birds during your visit please report this to our Customer Service Centre staff on 131 722 as soon as possible including the date, time, location, description and any photos you might have.
  • As a safety precaution, do not handle sick or deceased birds.
  • Blue-green algae season is underway

    • Blue-green algae occurs naturally in water bodies and can form blooms during warmer weather, periods of low flow or where there is an accumulation of nutrients.
    • If you observe any blue-green algae, take care to avoid the water and make sure that it does not come into contact with your skin or eyes.
    • Blue-green algae has not currently been observed in birdwatching areas, however our staff have increased monitoring and will be keeping a close watch on any potential blooms.
  • WTP closed to birdwatchers on total fire ban days

    • For your safety, we restrict access to WTP for birdwatchers on total fire ban days.
    • Prior to your visit, it is your responsibility to check the Country Fire Authority website for up to date fire danger ratings.
    • You can also download the VIC Emergency app and sign up to receive emergency warnings and information by setting up an alert for the area around WTP.
  • The roads can get busy

    • With a peak load on our roads in birdwatching areas at this time of year, take care to drive to conditions and always abide by signed speed limits.
    • If an area is particularly busy, avoid cars and people congregating in large numbers, move on and return later.

Fishing activity along the WTP foreshore

The WTP intertidal zone provides important habitat for numerous plants and animals and is a protected area with fishing restrictions. In Victoria, the intertidal zone is defined as the area starting at the maximum high-water mark to a point where the water is 2m deep at any time. (see diagrams below).

In Port Phillip Bay, which includes WTP, people are:

  • Legally able to collect some invertebrates from the intertidal zone including marine worms, sand worms burrowing shrimp, squid, octopus and cuttlefish. Equipment restrictions and catch limits for each species apply.
  • All other invertebrates, including shellfish such as mussels, pipis and scallops among others, are protected in the intertidal zone and cannot be collected.

For more details on Intertidal zone fishing restrictions in Port Phillip Bay and across Victoria please refer to the Victorian Fisheries Authority Recreational Fishing Guide.

If you think you have observed people undertaking suspected illegal fishing activities, do not approach them, move well away and you can report what you see to the Victorian Fisheries Authority hotline on 13 FISH (13 3474).

Keep in touch

Please ensure you are following this YourSay page to receive the latest news about birdwatching and other WTP related news.

If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact us via email [email protected] or telephone 131 722.