Birds return in large numbers to Chowilla floodplain

Date posted: 30 August 2017

Large numbers of native birds have been spotted on the Chowilla floodplain following environmental watering and a natural high flow event last year.

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) spokesperson Jan Whittle said that environmental watering was carried out between July and October 2016 with the operation of the Chowilla Creek regulator and the raising of Lock 6.

“The environmental watering covered more than 7,600 hectares of floodplain, reinvigorating the environment,” Ms Whittle said.

“Natural high flows followed during November and December and enabled water to spread further across the floodplain to areas that hadn’t had a drink in years.

“The flows peaked at a 23 year high of 95 giglitres a day on 30 November.

“This extra water has supported vegetation growth across the floodplain, providing an abundance of food for wildlife, particularly for birds.”

Surveys carried out on the floodplain during the last six months have revealed an increase in the number of birds in the area.

Ms Whittle said, surprisingly, 40 Red-necked Stints were reported on Chowilla at Coombool swamp during autumn.

“This small migratory bird is not usually seen at Chowilla. They make an annual journey north to breed in Siberia and western Alaska and visit Australia during the warmer months.

“Also 150 vulnerable Freckled Ducks were recorded during autumn at Werta Wert Wetland, as well as a large number of the Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeaters feeding in the heavily flowering Black Box trees.

“We also heard Owlet nightjars - Australia’s smallest nocturnal bird - at Werta Wert Wetland.

“At Chowilla Island a thousand Woodswallows were recorded, which is the highest number surveyed in recent years.

“During summer large numbers of wading birds - Red-necked Avocets and Pink-eared Ducks – were recorded at Gum Flat. The shallow water and lush vegetation made the area a perfect spot for wading birds to feed.”

Management and monitoring of the Chowilla Floodplain is funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s The Living Murray initiative; which is funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Australian Governments.

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