Black box woodlands near Buronga have been given a much-needed drink. A total of 2126 mega litres of water has been delivered to the 500 hectare site to support the health and survival of the important floodplain plant community.
This managed flow has been complemented by significant rains across the region with waterbirds, frogs and plants revelling in the wet conditions.
Mountain ducks have bred on-site and several Australasian grebe nests have been spotted. There’s plenty of food about for birds and frogs with micro-crustaceans, brine shrimp and insect life now in abundance.
Black box is showing a flush of fresh, green growth while the condition of lignum in the watering zone is vastly improved. Hectares of spike rush have emerged and nardoo is also responding with other aquatic plants expected to follow.
Environmental Water Management Officer Sascha Healy said the event had created a natural spectacle for visitors.
“Passing motorists have a clear view of the wetland from the Sturt Highway,” Ms Healy said.
“The health of the wetland has improved visibly and significantly which provides feeding and breeding opportunities for native plants and animals.
“As well as mountain ducks and grebes, we have observed dozens of plovers, cormorants, stilts and parrots making use of the wetland.
“At least six frog species have also been found on site including Peron’s tree frog, Sudell’s frog, froglets, Barking marshfrog, Eastern banjo frogs and spotted marsh frogs.
“The sound at dusk and dawn is extraordinary – a cacophony of frog song,” she said.
This watering event is the third in a series that has helped to reinstate a natural wetting and drying cycle to the woodland which had been affected by severe drought and removal of moderate flood flows from the system.
The site has been targeted for watering on two previous occasions, once in 2012/13 and again in 2013/14.
The watering project was a joint initiative of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Department of Industry – Lands.
OEH managed the delivery of environmental flows to the site with water expected to remain in the wetland into late spring.
Department of Industry – Lands Natural Resource Management Project Officer Ian Kelly said two camp grounds in the reserve were expected to remain open and accessible during the watering event.
“This event will further complement previous waterings and ongoing regeneration of several plant species,” Mr Kelly said.
“As part of the project, DPI Fisheries is conducting speculative surveys to check for fish species that may be using the inundated areas,” he said.
Temporary pumps were used to deliver water into the woodland which lies behind a slightly elevated ridge on the floodplain.