In the previous post I mentioned the local water treatment plant using the reserve water body as a convenient place to discharge the waste product from the filtration system. Like most they use alum as a flocculant to remove the colour and turbidity from the river water, a problem exacerbated by the European carp that are now so prevalent in our waterways. On windy days you could see a cloudy stain drifting across as the micro-fine silt particles were stirred up by wave action, and consequently there was virtually no aquatic vegetation, and diving birds like grebes were completely absent. After representations by the Wellington Shire the discharges ceased, then, during a drought when the lake bed was dry, a swamp ‘dozer was engaged to push up a significant depth of the fine silt into islands. That was the start of the rejuvenation of the wetland with the consequent improvement in water quality, aided by several floods that swept through with powerful flushing actions.
The wetland is fed by town storm water, and from the river when it is inundated by floodwater, then when there is lack of rainfall it can dry completely, following what is a normal wetland cycle. Many varieties of aquatic vegetation have returned naturally, giving shelter, invertebrate habitat, and safe breeding locations for the many bird species that have populated the wetland since its transformation into a vibrant living environment. Birdlife in the wetland recently has been prolific, Grey Teal, Hoary-headed Grebes, Pacific Black Duck, Eurasian Coots, Purple Swamphens, and Dusky Moorhens with good sized youngsters in tow have been plentiful.
As the mud flats become more extensive the rails and crakes will be easier to see, Buff-banded Rail, Spotless, and Australian Spotted Crake all call our wetland home, and the other day I had my first sighting of a spotted for this summer. Much too far away for a detailed photograph but here it is for the record, there are more photos of the crakes in previous posts.
These two posts have really just been a snapshot of the development of our wetland reserve over the last three decades, there is so much more that could be mentioned. The setbacks along the way, the involvement of local community members, assistance from the Wellington Shire and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, all the other birds that make up the bird list that now stands at one hundred and seventeen species, etc, etc. Nevertheless I hope they have shown what can be achieved at local level to help redress in a small way the great loss of wetlands since European settlement.