Saturday, 10 October 2015


For many years, I have wanted to eradicate exotic pests from Australia.  Now I find myself yearning to cull a native species.

Unwanted, unwelcome and unloved:  how do we eradicate them?

Noisy Miners have taken over some suburbs of Melbourne and turned previously enjoyable spots into miner monocultures.  When I moved to Kew 20 years ago, we enjoyed White-plumed Honeyeaters.  I have seen Eastern Spinebills in my street.  No more.  Now we must make do with miners.

Recently I visited the Maranoa Gardens in Balwyn, a suburb some 15 kilometres east of central Melbourne.  I have happy memories of visiting these municipal native gardens with my late grandfather and my late parents.  The birding used to be good.  I remember many Suberb Fairy-wrens and Silvereyes.  I remember New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills and Little Wattlebirds.  If you visit today, you'll see plenty of Noisy Miners, but not much else.

I visited several times during September and October 2015 and recorded Pied Currawongs, Australian Magpies, Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, one Red Wattlebird, a couple of Crested Pigeons, one Grey Butcherbird and Little Ravens.  No small birds at all.  But there were dozens of Noisy Miners.  I reckoned there were about 50 of these despotic creatures in the 1.4 hectare gardens.  That is far too many.

The gardens are lovely, with many flowering native plants.  Noisy Miners, although they are honeyeaters, prefer to eat insects.  They do take nectar, but half-heartedly, and don't feed from many of the flowering plants in the Maranoa Gardens.  Small honeyeaters that in the past would have enjoyed this nectar, are now driven from the gardens by Noisy Miners.  The miners don't need the resource, but won't allow anyone else to use it either.  They are selfish bullies.  They are getting more and more self-assured and aggressive.  They often bomb me as I walk down the street and I see young mothers with prams looking anxiously over their shoulders as they approach the local park.  I suspect that it is a matter of time before residents rebel and take matters into their own hands.  We should agree to cull these unwelcome creatures, plant lots of dense native undergrowth and hope we can see some of our small native birds return.

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