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Since 1959 Serendip has re-created a range of habitats which has seen the number of animal species increase from 40 (with few breeding) to over 150 today (with over 60 breeding). The sanctuary has also demonstrated the compatibility of farming and wildlife.
The birds at Serendip are there because the wetlands provide habitat for them. These wetlands are part of a larger number of wetlands in the region. As many wetlands have been modified or drained and no longer provide habitat, these remaining wetlands are important conservation areas.
Serendip has many different wetland types, each with their own characteristics. The shallow freshwater wetland is ephemeral and dries out every two to three years unless it receives a flow of water from the You Yangs water catchment. The Marshland at Serendip has channels of varying depths designed to cater for a range of waterbird species. Trees such as River Red Gums and wattles around Lake Serendip attract different species of birds. Finally, the North Arm of Lake Serendip is an example of a permanent open water wetland.
Native grass and herb species used for revegetating Serendip include:
- Tussock grass (Poa labillardieri)
- Common Wallaby Grass (Danthonia caespitosa)
- Windmill Grass (Chloris truncata)
- Chocolate Lily (Anthropodium strictum)
- Blue Devil (Eryngium rodneyanum)
- Common Everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum).
More than 150 species of bird common to the Western Plains of Victoria have been recorded at Serendip Sanctuary and the facilities provided at this park make it ideal for viewing them in their natural settings. Look for Cape Barren Geese and Magpie Geese in the shallow, freshwater wetland, and many ducks, White-faced Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Black Swans and grebes in and around the marshland.
Honeyeaters and wattlebirds feed on nectar and insects in the trees around Lake Serendip and Whistling and Black Kites soar up above looking for small prey on the ground.
The Billabong provides habitat for various ducks, swamphens and moorhens and attracts other food for the birds such as frogs, water rats and snakes.
The North Arm permanent wetland is more reliable for fish populations providing food for fishing birds like pelicans and cormorants. Also, keep watch for Chestnut Teal, Yellow-billed Spoonbills and flocks of White Ibis flying about preparing to roost in the trees around the permanent wetland each night.
Australian Bustards and Bush Stone-curlew are two rare Victorian birds which were once common on the Western Plains and now find a protected home at Serendip. Brolgas (Grus rubicundus) and Australian Bustards (Ardeotis australis) were chosen for the captive breeding program at Serendip, designed to rehabilitate species that have become rare or extinct on the Western Plains. The success of the captive breeding program has received international recognition.
Australia’s rarest waterfowl, the Freckled Duck, and the most secretive of owls, the endangered Masked Owl, are now also on display at the Sanctuary.
Serendip also provides habitat for a variety of mammal species including Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies and Pademelons, now extinct in the wild in Victoria.