Melbourne’s Royal Park

My favourite birding site in Melbourne is Royal Park. It is less busy than Royal Botanic Gardens and not at all seedy like Yarra Bend Park. It is also one of the largest areas of green space in Melbourne and is one of the few places where you can see a few honeyeaters besides Noisy Miner and Red Wattlebird. On a typical hour visit we see around thirty species.

Much of the park is not interesting. In fact, when I first went to Royal Park I thought it was a waste of time, and that is because I went to the wrong spot. The right spot is the area starting from Royal Park Station heading to Trinwarren Tam-Boore wetlands and is a goldmine for birds. Start along the shared bike-pedestrian Capital City Trail, where one of the first birds you’ll probably see is Bell Miner. Crested Pigeon is also common along this path.

Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys) is easy to find and is a pretty much guaranteed sighting. Just follow the unmistakeable bell-like calls. Photo by Jason Polak.

In the White’s Skink Habitat, White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeater are common. I believe Royal Park is the only area in the inner city that is a reliable place to see these species. Although White Plumed Honeyeater is also not rare in Yarra Bend Park, it is a little more difficult to find there.

The first time we saw New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) was at Point Addis, about 100km from Melbourne. It turns out you can see them at Royal Park too! Photo by Jason Polak.

Also easily found are Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, House Sparrow, and Welcome Swallow. You might get to see Silvereye and Laughing Kookaburra too. There are sometimes raptors here, and I wonder if they like to eat the Welcome Swallows? Superb Fairy-wren is often on and near the path around the wetlands.

In Royal Park you may be lucky enough to spot a male Superb Fairy Wren (Malurus cyaneus) in its bright blue breeding plumage. Photo by Jason Polak.

The wetlands itself consist of two small ponds. The most common species here are Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal, and Australasian Grebe. Hardhead is also sometimes around as well as Great Egret and White-faced Heron. The ponds have the most birds in the summer, when the south is baked in hot sun.

Although the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) is common, it is easy to observe in Royal Park. Its beautiful plumage reminds me of tasty wafer cookies. Yum. Photo by Jason Polak.

Musk Lorikeet is an uncommon speciality of Royal Park. So far this is the only place we’ve seen them, and are most easily found when there are some flowering eucalypts. We’ve had good luck in March-April. Little Lorikeet and Swift Parrot are supposed to be seen here but we are sadly still waiting on these. Other parrots like Rainbow Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella, and Galah are more common. Spotted Pardalote is frequently reported here but confusingly we’ve never spotted it. Any tips for us?

The Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna) is not easily seen. We found it multiple times in the large eucalypts near Royal Park Station. Photo by Jason Polak.

As usual check out the complete list of birds reported on eBird for Royal Park.


  • CarlH says:

    Spotted pardalotes can be hard to spot as they are typically high in the eucalypt canopy feeding. But the give away is their repeated contact call – a high pitched, short, weep-weep.
    At Yarra Bend, they are fairly regularly in the small patch of trees that is looped by the closed-off road on the hill south of Dights Falls and around the Dights Falls lookout on the south bank.
    For Striated, you could try Woodlands up past the airport. They are fairly abundant there.
    PS. happy to see that that my Tawny Frogmouth entry helped you out 🙂

    • jpolak says:

      Thanks for the message, Carl. If you can believe it, we even downloaded the call for these birds and still haven’t found them. So, we are looking forward to trying your tip at Dights Falls and possible the Woodlands if we make it there. Also, your eBird count for Yarra Bend Park is impressive!

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