PURPLE SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio)

In the 2 years I’ve lived in this western suburb of Melbourne, there are certainly many native birds which I’ve seen before……mainly the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, but also The Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo and down at the local bayside beaches within public transport distance of the city centre.

The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is one of them.

There are usually 4-5 Swamphens grazing on the low-lying field behind my apartment building.

Looking across the field to the walking path and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve in the background.
Looking over the low-lying field on the right-hand side of the path leading down to the river – 2016

The field is about the size of a soccer field and is much lower than the path leading down to the river, so one imagines it might flood if the river burst its banks and flooded the area as it did in….

“Since 1871 there have been 27 recorded floods in the Maribyrnong area, with large floods occurring approximately every 10-20 years. The highest recorded flood affecting the Maribyrnong floodplain was in September 1906, and the next known highest was in May 1974″.

Not sure, but I seem to remember the area further along the river flooded in 2011 (but don’t quote me on that).

The 2 lakes, Nymphaea Lake and the large Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens are home to many Purple Swamphens and I was lucky enough to see one tiny chick struggling onto a floating island in the Botanic Gardens only a  few years ago.  I’ve made a number of images in the early years of my Photography hobby of these birds and you can usually get quite close to them in the RBG.

I can only get as close as about 20 feet in my own ‘backyard’.  They are not as used to humans in this area.

But the first time I saw one was a juvenile in April 2011.

Purple Swamphen (juvenile)
A purple Swamphen in a golden Wattle at Ringwood Lake in the outer eastern suburbs where I was born and grew up.