The battle between water birds and our fish

Ponds at Courtlands Village

– By Noel Dunn

As potential residents inspect our Village in North Parramatta, many are influenced by a feature they observe on their initial visit. When my wife and I first visited Courtlands, we were impressed by the magnificent gardens and water features throughout the Village.

After living here for a year or two, the late Roy Peglar and I suggested to the Village Management that we introduce Gold Fish to the water features. The Management were agreeable to the proposal on a trial basis if the residents maintained and fed the fish.

Twenty Gold Fish were purchased and placed in one of the four ponds in our area. These initial fish survived well and after a couple of years started to breed. In no time we had over 100 baby fish swimming around. We removed these and put them into a second pond which then became our nursery.

With regular feeding the babies grew into 4-5 centimetres long fish, which we felt were large enough to transfer into the other ponds around the Village.

The fish population thrived. The gardeners became interested in the project and introduced water lilies, water pumps and filters to improve the quality of the water.

Everything was going well until the water birds from nearby Lake Parramatta discovered our ponds. They found the fish just a very nice size for them to swallow as their daily diet.

This was a disaster for we fish-feeding volunteers. Netting was quickly purchased and stretched over the ponds in the hope we could protect the fish.

This did not go well with the residents or the gardeners. The residents couldn’t see the fish and the gardeners had difficulty maintaining the ponds and water lilies. The nets were removed exposing the fish who within days were consumed by the birds who had returned to their feeding grounds.

It was then decided to introduce Japanese Koi Carp. Koi Carp grow quickly into a size too large for the birds to swallow.

The nursery pond was re-established. Baby Carp were purchased and placed in the covered pond until they grew into
the required size for relocation. At the same time larger Koi Carp were purchased and placed in the uncovered ponds around the Village.

This proved to be successful and many of the original fish are still in our ponds today, and the babies have now grown sufficiently to be rehoused with them. The birds still visit Courtlands but leave hungry to look for smaller fish elsewhere.

Our Village has 130 Koi Carp of various sizes, some up to 50 centimetres long. We also have three smaller covered ponds with small gold fish which survived the bird attacks. Feeding fish of the size the Koi Carp have grown requires large quantities of food, which we are able to purchase from a manufacturer funded by out Residence Committee.

A group of eight volunteers feed the fish daily and obtain great satisfaction from their involvement.

The Courtlands fish ponds continue to give great pleasure to our residents especially those whoare transported by the staff from the aged care areas and of course visitors.

For more information about Courtlands Village in North Parramatta please visit our webpage, or call 1800 246 637.