Birds flock to breed in north-west NSW wetlands

The biggest wetland bird breeding event in the Macquarie Marshes and Gwydir Wetlands in a decade is well under way ahead of World Wetland Day on 2 February.

Blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis)

National Parks and Wildlife Service Acting Director, John Whittall, said recent floods had filled wetland systems and major bird breeding is happening right now, including at Narran Lake Nature Reserve.

“It’s been a joy to see the wetlands spring back to life after the drought across the whole of northern NSW to enable what is now the biggest breeding event since 2012,” John said.

“We’re all very excited. The wetlands are internationally significant breeding grounds so it’s fantastic to see mass breeding as we celebrate this year’s World Wetland Day’s theme of ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’.

“NPWS have done 350 hours of aerial pest species shooting over the wetlands in the last 2 years, as well as follow up ground programs, to give the birds the best chance of breeding success possible.”

NPWS Project Officer, Conservation Dr Joanne Ocock who is part of a multi-agency team monitoring the wetlands said: “Vegetation has returned as brilliant green islands in the semi-arid landscape providing waterbirds with plenty of nest-building material and we have seen the egrets and ibis in particular nesting in their thousands.

“The birdlife has been overwhelming and everyone has their favourites. I can’t go past the incredibly pretty freckled and blue-billed ducks. They are threatened species and it’s great to see them gather in such significant numbers.

“It’s not just about the birds, we are also seeing baby frogs in enormous numbers. While some may just look at them as bird food, as a frog expert I think they are beautiful in their own right.” she said.

Visitors are welcome to experience this remarkable event by visiting the Waterbird Lagoon bird hide at the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area about 70 kilometres from Moree. Roads have reopened after the floods but visitors are asked to drive with care.

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