I started last year with a field visit to Fivebough Swamp in Leeton, and I hadn’t intended to do the same this year, but I was in Leeton and awake at 6:30am the morning after it had rained, so what else could I do but go for a walk at Fivebough?
I started this year with a wetland visit, and I thought it fitting to end it with another, only this time I decided to look at a very different type of wetland – rice bays.
Conservation agriculture is something I am particularly interested in, for numerous reasons. One of these reasons – a very major one – is that off-park conservation is vital to the survival of a great many of our native species. Conservation actions undertaken on private land bolster those undertaken in government-managed National Parks and reserves, and often provide essential corridors of habitat connectivity across landscapes. Without off-park conservation efforts – many of which are on private land – our native species would be in an even stickier situation than they currently are, and the current situation is bad enough.
In my first attempt to keep my promise to you and myself to try and get out more in June – and to celebrate the end of the work assignment that kept me chained to my desk every waking moment of the past two weeks – I headed back to Narrandera Common yesterday for a walk along the canal bank.
I’m not counting this as an official monthly field visit, because I did one to Narrandera Common in February, so the official June Field Visit is yet to come. Maybe count this as in lieu of April or May – especially as I had intended to visit Narrandera Common in April, for the annual koala count, which unfortunately got rained out and cancelled, and I did see some koalas yesterday (scroll down for pics).
Instead of walking through the interior of the woodland, as I did in February, I decided to walk along the canal bank this time. The Main Canal comes off of Lake Talbot at Narrandera, right next to the Common/Wildlife Reserve, and goes on to feed the Murrumbidgee and Coleambally Irrigation Areas downstream. There is a lovely broad, flat walking path along the edge of the canal for several kilometres, from the gate into the Common down to the Rocky Waterholes Footbridge. This is a very popular place for walkers as it’s a lovely easy grade and you can set your own pace, there’s no vehicular access except occasionally for maintenance (or emergency) vehicles, and you have the great experience of walking along with river red gum woodland on one side, and the canal and Lake Talbot on the other. This gives a great cross-section of bush birds and waterbirds in one place, with a high probability of seeing a koala or several, and the rather lower but not impossible chance of coming across a turtle or water-rat. Something went very loudly ‘splosh’ right behind me yesterday as I was looking at birds in the trees, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to see what it was. The bank is also raised higher than the floodplain the trees grow in, so you’re at lower-branch level for many trees, which brings a lot of the more arboreal wildlife closer and easier to see.
Welcome to the first ‘official’ monthly blog post of Riverina Wildlife. My goal is to post one field trip report per month, interspersed with any incidental sightings or items of interest I’d like to share in between (more information about my posting schedule can be found here). It being the 31st I’m just getting this one in under the wire for January.
On Wednesday I visited Fivebough Swamp, one half of the Ramsar-listed Fivebough & Tuckerbil Wetlands at Leeton. Fivebough and Tuckerbil are two naturally-occurring shallow swamps, located about 10km apart, to the north-east and north-west of Leeton. Fivebough is a permanent, but fluctuating, fresh-brackish wetland, whilst Tuckerbil is a seasonal, shallow, brackish-saline wetland. Tuckerbil is being managed primarily for waterbird conservation, and amongst other things is an important brolga flocking area, and so is not open to the public. Fivebough, on the other hand, is being managed for both conservation and community education and has a permanent walking trail installed in the south-western part of the swamp, complete with interpretive signage, bird hides, viewing mounds and seating; there’s also a covered picnic area near the carpark.