'Quacking' response to water at NSW wetlands

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Ducks of all descriptions have descended on wetlands near Gol Gol, in the state’s south west.

There are ducks with blue bills, ducks with pink ears, ducks with white eyes and/or freckles alongside a host of other bird species including dotterels, stilts, avocets and spoonbills.

All are enjoying a bountiful supply of food and healthy habitat as a result of rainfall and follow-up environmental flows aimed at supporting these beautiful birds throughout their lifecycle.

Pink-eared ducks – also known as zebra ducks – are one of many species enjoying the revitalised Gol Gol wetlands. Photo V Bucello.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has been managing and monitoring the event.

OEH water management officer Sascha Healy said surveys conducted in early January had shown 27 species of bird making use of the Gol Gol wetlands.

“Almost every possible species of duck has made an appearance this season,” Ms Healy said.

It’s terrific to see all these birds responding so well to the improved conditions.

“A number of the birds are breeding, including grey teal and Pacific black ducks, both seen with ducklings.

“As well as ducks, we’ve seen glossy ibis, red-necked avocets, black-winged stilts and white-faced herons.

“It’s terrific to see all these birds responding so well to the improved conditions.

“OEH has been able to supplement natural flows into the wetlands to ensure the birds can complete their breeding and find enough food for their growing young,” Ms Healy said.

Mountain ducks are among the myriad bird-life seen at the wetlands. Photo M Todd OEH.

OEH senior project officer Dr Michael Todd said the speed at which the birds were able to find the wetland once it had water was a highlight of the event.

“Also, the diversity of ducks,” Dr Todd said.

“Normally, you would expect to see a handful of duck species on a wetland, but here you have most of the duck species that are possible, including two threatened species.

“Overall, the number of birds is more than I would have expected for a relatively small wetland that has been dry for so long.

“It’s a fantastic outcome,” he said.

A remote camera captured this swan enjoying the wetlands. Photo OEH.

OEH continues to monitor the site using song meters and remote sensing cameras.

The complete list of birds observed during the early January 2017 survey is found below:

White-faced heron

The white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) also known as the white-fronted heron, is a common bird throughout most of Australasia, including New Guinea, the islands of Torres Strait, Indonesia, New Zealand and all but the driest areas of Australia. It is a medium-sized heron, pale, slightly bluish-grey, with yellow legs and white facial markings. It can be found almost anywhere near shallow water, fresh or salt, and although it is is prompt to depart the scene on long, slow beating wings if disturbed, it will boldly raid suburban fish ponds.
Source: Wikipedia

White-faced heron. Port Albert, Victoria. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Straw-necked ibis

The straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) is common across mainland Australia, and is also found in Tasmania, New Guinea, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island. It is a large waterbird with a naked black head, white underside, straw-like spiny feathers (which give rise to its common name), and glossy blue-black wings, back and collar with metallic purple, green and bronze sheen. It prefers wet and dry grasslands, pastures and swamp or lagoon margins, and is rarely found on coastal shores, mudflats or mangroves.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Straw-necked ibis showing its straw-like spiny feathers. Kununurra, WA. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

White ibis

The white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is widespread in northern and eastern Australia. It was not present in western Australia before 1950, although its abundance is now increasing. It is absent from Tasmania. It is a large waterbird with almost entirely white body feathers and featherless black head and neck. Adult birds have sparse, stiff, yellow plumes hanging from the lower neck. It can be found in swamps, lagoons, floodplains and grasslands, and has become a successful inhabitant of urban parks and gardens.
Source: Australian Bush Birds

White ibis in full breeding plumage with neck plumes and red skin on the back of the head. Casino, NSW. Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Glossy ibis

The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is found throughout most of the Australian mainland, and is most abundant in the north. Slightly smaller than the other Australian ibises, it is reddish-brown with a metallic iridescent sheen on the wings, has blue-grey facial skin and a distinctive olive-brown bill. It frequents shallow mudflats,well-vegetated wetlands, floodplains, mangroves and ricefields.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Glossy ibis. Mutton Hole Conservation Area near Normanton, QLD. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Yellow-billed spoonbill

The yellow-billed spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) is found in northern and inland Australia, Lord Howe Island and New Zealand. It is a large, white waterbird with pale grey facial skin, yellow spoon-shaped bill, and yellow legs and feet. Breeding birds have narrow black edging around their face. It can be found in the shallows of freshwater wetlands, dams, lagoons and swamps, sometimes in dry pastures, and rarely in saltwater wetlands.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Yellow-billed spoonbill. Noccundra Waterhole, QLD. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Little pied cormorant

The little pied cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) is one of the most common Australian waterbirds, found throughout Australia. It is the smallest Australian cormorant, is entirely black above, entirely white below and has a short yellow bill. It is found in both fresh and salt water, often found in large flocks on open waterways and on the coast and usually solitary on inland streams and dams.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Little pied cormorant. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Hoary-headed grebe

The hoary-headed grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) is found in every Australian state and territory, and in New Zealand. It is a small grebe with grey and white plumage, and breeding adults develop white streaking on the head which lends the bird its name. It is found away from the shoreline in large open freshwater, brackish or estuarine waters.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Hoary-headed grebe. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Grey teal

The grey teal (Anas gracilis) is found throughout Australia. It is a medium sized grey-brown duck with white throat, slate grey bill, legs and feet, and red-orange iris. It is found in sheltered fresh, brackish and salt water areas, and especially favours inland timbered pools and river systems.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Grey teal. Caranbrini Waterhole, NT. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Chestnut teal

The chestnut teal (Anas catanea) is found in south-eastern and south-western Australia, New Guinea and Lord Howe Island. It is a small duck with a rounded head and blue-grey bill. Males have a glossy dark green head, chestnut neck and dark brown back. Females (and non-breeding males) are mottled dark brown and grey, have a pale neck and dark eye stripe. It  is one of the few ducks that can tolerate high salinity waters, and is found on wetlands and estuaries in coastal regions.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Pair of Chestnut Teals. Male (left) has a green head. Stanley, TAS. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Freckled duck

The freckled duck (Stictonetta naevosa) is found in south-eastern and south-western Australia, and breeds in the Lake Eyre Basins and Murray-Darling System. It is a dark-greyish brown duck with freckled white plumage, large head and narrow, slightly upturned bill. During breeding season the male’s bill becomes crimson. It prefers fresh water swamps and creeks.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Male freckled duck. Source: Wikipedia.

Blue-billed duck

The blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis) is only found in Australia, found in temperate wetlands in the south-east and south-west. It is a small, brown diving duck with stiff pointed tail feathers. Breeding males have a large, scooped, light blue bill. It is rarely seen on land, preferring freshwater dams and lakes.

Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Blue-billed duck. Source: Birdlife Australia.

Musk duck

The musk duck (Biziura lobata) is only found in Australia, from north-west Western Australia to southern Queensland. It is the largest Australian duck with sooty-brown plumage, brown barring on the body, fine spots on the head and dark grey beak. Males have a leathery lobe that hangs beneath the bill. It gets it name from the musk odour produced from a gland on the rump. It is found in deep freshwater lagoons with dense reed beds.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Male musk duck with lobe beneath bill. Lake Hamilton, VIC. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Hardhead

The hardhead (Aythya australis) is found only in Australia. It is a medium-sized, chocolate brown duck with white undertail. Males have a distinctive white eye and white tipped bill. It is found in freshwater swamps and wetlands with abundant aquatic vegetation.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Male hardhead with distinctive white eye and white tipped bill. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Wood duck

The wood duck (Chenonetta jubata) is widespread throughout Australia. It is a medium-sized duck with dark brown head, grey body and black stripes on its back. It is commonly found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, flood pastures, farmland with dams, sewage ponds and urban parks.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Wood duck. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Pink-eared duck

The pink-eared duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) is found throughout Australia, however, only occasionally in Tasmania. It is a small duck with brown back and wings, brown striped sides and underparts, large square-tipped grey bill, brown eye patch and small pink patch behind the eye. It prefers timbered areas near shallow, temporary waters.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds 

Pink-eared duck. Cobar, NSW. Source: Australian Bush Birds

Australasian shoveler

The Australasian shoveler (Anas rhynchotis) is found throughout Australia and in New Zealand. It is a duck with dark head, blue-grey wings, black back and shovel-tipped bill. It is found in all kinds of wetlands (especially heavily vegetated freshwater swamps), open waters and occasionally along the coast.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Australasian shoveler. Source: Birds in Backyards.

Pacific black duck

The pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa) is found throughout the Pacific region, and in all but the most arid regions of Australia. It is mid-brown in colour with a distinctive head pattern: a dark brown line through the eye, cream borders above and below and a dark brown crown. It is incredibly versatile and can be found in all types of water, including urban ponds.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Pacific black duck. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Australian shelduck

The Australian shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) is found throughout south west and south east Australia, and is occasionally seen in the Kimberly region of Western Australia and in Central Australia. It is a large, mainly black duck with white and chestnut markings. It prefers fresh waters to salt waters, and is found on large shallow water bodies, farmland, pastures, open woodland and occasionally at sea.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Australian shelduck pair. Female (right) has white rings around her eye, male (left) has longer head and more prominent white band around neck. Derwent Valley, TAS. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Black swan

The black swan (Cygnus atratus) is found throughout Australia (more common in the south), New Zealand and New Guinea. It is a very large waterbird with black body, white wing tips and deep orange-red bill with white band at the tip. It prefers large salt, brackish or fresh waterways and permanent wetlands.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Black swan. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Black-winged stilt

The black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is found in Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, New Zealand and is widespread on the Australian mainland. It is also found in Central and South America, Africa and parts of North America and Eurasia. It is a large wader with white face and head, black wings and back, red eye, finely tapering black bill and orange-red legs. It is found in freshwater and saltwater marshes, mudflats and the shallow edges of lakes and rivers.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Black-winged stilt. Lake Tuggerah, NSW. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Red-necked avocet

The red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) is found throughout mainland Australia. It has a chestnut coloured head and upper neck, prominent white eye-ring, white body, black and white wings, blue-grey legs and long, black upturned bill. It is found in large shallow freshwater or saltwater wetlands and estuarine mudflats.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Red-neck avocet. Mildura, NSW. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Red kneed dotterel

The red kneed dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) is found throughout mainland Australia, however it is rare in the east. It is a medium-sized olive-brown water bird with black crown, white breast, grey feet and deep pink legs. It prefers shallow swamps and flooded areas with vegetation.
Source: Australian Bush Birds

Red kneed dotterel. Brisbane, QLD. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Masked lapwing

The masked lapwing (Vanellus miles) is found in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Australia. It is a large plover with brown wings and back, black crown and yellow wattle covering the face. It inhabits marshes, mudflats, beaches, grasslands and urban areas.

Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Masked lapwing. NSW. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Black-tailed native hen

The black-tailed native hen (Tribonyx ventralis) is present in Tasmania and New Zealand, and is common in mainland Australia. It is a medium-sized brownish-grey bird with erect black tail, yellow eye, red lower mandible (jaw) and pink legs and feet. It is found near wetlands in low rainfall areas.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Black tailed native hen. Peterborough, SA. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Coot

The coot (Fulica atra) is found throughout Eurasia, New Zealand Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia, although it is less common in drier regions. It is a dark grey bird with a white bill and forehead shield, red eye and grey legs and feet. It is common in lagoons and swamps.
Source: Birds in Backyards; Australian Bush Birds

Coot. Source: Australian Bush Birds.

Peregrine falcon

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is found in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and across Australia, however it is not common. It is a large bird of prey with black hood, creamy white chin, finely barred throat and underside and yellow eye-ring and bill. It is found in most habitats and at most altitudes.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Peregrine falcon. Source: Birds in Backyards.

Whiskered tern

The whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) is found in Europe, Asia, south-Eastern Africa and Australia. It is a small marsh tern with medium grey body and tail, dark grey underparts, white undertail, brown eye, slightly forked tail and red bill and legs. It is found in shallow freshwater wetlands, freshwater swamps, brackish and saline lakes, floodwaters and large dams.
Source: Birds in Backyards

Whiskered tern. Source: Birds in Backyards.

 

 

 


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