May 2017 Field Visit – Fivebough Swamp

I wasn’t going to do another wetland for a few months, because I feel like I do wetlands a lot, but a friend of mine told me that Fivebough Swamp was spectacular at the moment, so I decided that was too good to pass up, and off to Leeton I went. As coincidence would have it, I ran into the same friend and her sister while I was there, and we spent a while wandering along together before parting ways.

Fivebough Swamp on a fine late-autumn day
Fivebough Swamp on a fine late-autumn day

I have blogged about visits to Fivebough before, but the last time I went it was flooded, and my previous visits (at least, those that have been recorded here) have been in the middle of summer. It’s currently late autumn, and a lot of work has been done onsite since the last time I was able to take a wander through the main part of the wetland, so it’s all a bit different this time.

For example, the old bird hides have been replaced with these speccy new viewing platforms


For some reason my camera didn’t actually retain about a third of the photos I took, so this post is going to be heavy on wide shots and crakes. Oh, by the way, I saw a bunch of crakes. Up close, and out in the open, and totally not bothered by me (and then me, my friend and her sister) standing there taking a million photos.

The first time I ever saw crakes of any species (and indeed it was three different species on that occasion)  was at Fivebough, eleven years ago. I have rarely seen them since, at Fivebough or anywhere else. I dare say they’ve been present in wetlands I’ve visited, but they’re small, shy, and like to hide amongst the reeds on the edges of mudflats, so they’re hard to see. This time there were at least four or five Australian Spotted Crakes (Porzana fluminea) and one or two Spotless Crakes (Porzana tabuensis) running around right there in front of me, along with a couple of Red-kneed Dotterels (Erythrogonys cinctus). There were also some Purple Swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio) and Black-tailed Native Hens (Tribonyx ventralis) running around in the background, so it was a bit of a rail party. Well, a rail party with dotterels.

Now then, pictures!

Australian Spotted Crake (Porzana fluminea)
Australian Spotted Crake (Porzana fluminea)


Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis)
Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis)


I think this is a young Black-tailed Native Hen – diagnostic bill and leg colours somewhat obscured by mud


Red-kneed Dotterels (Erythrogonys cinctus)
Red-kneed Dotterels (Erythrogonys cinctus)



My friend had been told that there were currently brolgas at Fivebough, but these were the only ones we could find:

Other birds spotted on the day included:

Yellow-billed Spoonbill and White Ibises
A Yellow-billed Spoonbill and some White Ibises


Black Swans
Black Swans


Egrets, Mountain Ducks (aka Australian Shelducks), more swans, Purple Swamphens, Great Cormorants


And, well, it was just pretty.


As an added bonus, my friend then invited me to come see some nesting Glossy Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami) near her place when they returned to their nest at sunset. Glossies are an endangered species, and I don’t recall ever having seen any in person before, so I enthusiastically took her up on the offer, and was rewarded with hearing the whole family calling, and getting a great view (and terrible photo) of the female heading into the nest.

Behold – one terrible photo of an adult female Glossy Black Cockatoo. She was gorgeous in person, I promise.



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