Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

Family Birdwatching at Jells Park

Home > Melbourne > Animals and Wildlife | Family | Free | Outdoor | Parks
by Gayle Beveridge (subscribe)
Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published October 31st 2015
The Birds Know the Family that Plays Together Stays Together
Birdwatching might not be top of your list for family outings but don't sell it short, it's an activity that can engage and captivate parent and child alike. Jells Park is a great place to start with an abundance of birds easily spotted especially around the lake and on the edges of the conservation area. Add to that great playgrounds, several picnic and BBQ areas and a restaurant and kiosk and how could you go wrong?

jells lake, jells park, birdwatching, parks in melbourne, birdwatching in melbourne, bird hide, white ibis, cormorants,
The island in Jells Lake crowded in nesting season. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

Who doesn't love a kookaburra and it shouldn't be too long before you hear their laughter chortling through the trees. Children are always captivated by ducks and water birds and there's no shortage of them. Why not have a family competition for most birds spotted or first of a species spotted or play that old favourite, 'I spy with my little eye…"

kookaburra, jells park, jells lake, birdwatching, parks in melbourne, lakes in melbourne, birdwatching in melbourne, birding, australian birds,
A kookaburra in the Ponds Area. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)


white-faced heron, birdwatching in melbourne, jells park, jells lake, lakes in melbourne, birding in melbourne, australian birds,
A white faced heron struts its stuff at Jetty 1 on Jells Lake. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

The park is home not only to natives but also to migratory birds and over 150 species have been sighted here. Don't worry if you aren't a bird expert, there are identification charts in the bird hide. A field guide is always handy but is an unnecessary expense. As foreign as it seems to talk tablets and smart phones on a day in the great outdoors the Birds in Backyards website has a handy bird finder facility at www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder. I prefer to take photos and ID the birds later.

littel pied cormorant, birdwatching, jells park, jells lake, birdwatching in melbourne, parks in melbourne, birding in melbourne,
A little pied cormorant dries its wings at Jells Lake. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)


purple swamp hen, birdwatching in melbourne, jells park, birdwatching, birding in melbourne, parks in melbourne,
Purple swamp hens near the path's edge. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

The best places for sightings are at Jells Lake which is accessed on easy, wide paths from the Visitor Centre. Maps of the park can be downloaded here in the 'Park Notes'. Eurasian coot are usually found at Jetty 1 and when I was last there a blue faced heron was confidently strutting along the boardwalk.

great cormorant, jells park, birdwatching in melbourne, birdwatching, birding in melbourne,parks in melbourne,
A great cormorant on Jells Lake. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)


bird hide, jells park, parks in melbourne, birdwatching in melbourne, birding in melbourne, birdwatching,
The bird hide at Jells Lake. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

A bird hide on the east of the lake accords views of the island where birds are so abundant they jockey for space and supplementary nesting boxes have been installed. The lake circuit is 2.3kms but it is a shared path and bikes are welcome. The bird hide has a long bench seat with two viewing slots of one metre each. Don't worry if it's busy, the island can be seen from the lake track between Jetty 3 and the bird hide.

australian white ibis, ibis, birdwatching in melbourne, jells park, parks in melbourne, birding in melbourne,
Come on, move over! Australian white ibis jostle for space on the island. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

What you will see depends on the time of year and spring is tops as the birds are nesting. On an October afternoon visit I spotted Australian white ibis, great cormorant, little pied cormorant, Australian wood ducks, Eurasian coots, purple swamp hens, white faced herons, straw necked ibis, Australian darters and little black cormorants. Ibis, herons, ducks and swamp hens are also commonly spotted in wetlands and ponds throughout the park. You might even sight pelicans.

australian wood duck, eurasian coot, jells park, birdwatching in melbourne, birding in melbourne, australian birds, birding in melbourne,
Australian wood ducks and a Eurasian coot on Jells Lake. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)


In this oasis in suburbia you will be surrounded by birdsong. Magpies, noisy minors and lorikeets are common. On the edges of the conservation area look to the trees. There are kookaburras here, eastern rosellas, and wattle birds, to note but a few. Nesting boxes have been installed to supplement tree hollows and encourage native birds.

nesting box, birdwatching, jells park, birding, birdwatching in melbourne, parks in melbourne, bird box,
Nesting boxes supplement tree hollows in the conservation area. (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)


noisy minors, noisy miners, birdwatching, jells park, birdwatching in melbourne, parks in melbourne, australian birds,
A family of noisy minors near the Pines Picnicn Area (Photo © Gayle Beveridge)

Be warned bird watching is an addictive pastime. Before you know it you are hooked and destined for years of pleasure and plenty of reasons to get out in the fresh air.

Jells Park is on Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill, just east of the intersection with Jells Road. The park is open daily with 24 hour pedestrian access. Waverley Road gates open at 8am. There is onsite parking. For more information ring the Visitor Centre (Madeline's at Jells) on (03) 9561 4522 or go to the Parks Victoria website where you can download the Park Notes and a Map. Entry is free.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  40
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? To enjoy day out that engages and captivates every member of the family
When: Open every day with 24 hour pedestrian access. Vehicle gates open at different times throughout the year. Waverley Road gates open at 8am. There is a 24 hour vehicle exit to Jells Road.
Phone: (03) 9561 4522 (Madeline’s at Jells and Visitor Centre)
Where: Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill (East of Jells Road).
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Love the birds. It is always good to find a spot where you can see many varieties.
by Roger (score: 2|599) 1106 days ago
I'd never heard of some of these birds before and they are certainly not what I expected to find in the city.
by betty (score: 2|486) 1079 days ago
Articles from other cities
Featured
Foodi Photoh Classie
Top Events
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions