After several years of managing a series of flows and drawdowns at Hird Swamp, the North Central Catchment Management Authority has seen a positive response from a range of waterbirds.
The operation’s aim was to limit the growth of reeds and increase the amount of open water to support the high diversity of wetland plants, improve drowned vegetation and provide habitat for birds.
NCCMA water manager Louissa Rogers said water was used to fill Hird Swamp in 2017.
“We saw an immediate response from a range of different waterbirds, and responded by topping up the western section in late summer this year,” Ms Rogers said.
During observations carried out in February 2018, 8000 birds from 47 various species were recorded.
The wetland is important for waterbird resting, nesting and feeding.
“Over the 11 months we have recorded nine threatened species- baillon’s crake, whiskered tern, glossy ibis, royal spoonbill, eastern great egret, Australasian bittern, magpie gease and the white-bellied sea eagle,” Ms Rogers said.
“It was exciting to see such large numbers, but also seeing both adults and juveniles. That means they have been born there and are raising them on the wetland.
“One of the highlights was 11 brolgas, including a breeding pair with their juvenile. That tells us they are really happy with what’s on offer.
“It also means one of the other priorities in the area, the National Landcare Program-funded Kerang Wetlands protection program, is also making a difference. That program protects birds from pest species such as foxes, and works with surrounding landholders to create a protective barrier for the native animals.”
Under Hird Swamp’s Environmental Water Management Plan, there are no plans to deliver any water to the wetlands for the next two years to ensure reeds don’t continue to grow and to entice more birds to use the area.
“Hird Swamp is a great example of water for the environment management being more than just about adding water,” Ms Rogers said.
“It’s abut the right amount of water at the right time, mixed with a range of targeted protection and revegetation measures.”
The program is part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million Water for Victoria investment to enhance the health of the state’s waterways and catchments.