of life and death

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: of life and death
From: "Peter Waanders" <>
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2001 21:17:35 +1030
Hi all,

I just had a look around the local wetland, Hart Lagoon, which is currently
drying out fast. On the exposed mud edges in a section of billabongs, small
islands with lignums, and sedge beds I counted no less than 14 Spotted
Crakes. A creek connecting the wetland to the river Murray has recently had
carp exclusion screens installed; and hundreds of carp following the water
draining towards the river, have become trapped. The water, getting shallow
and hot, is becoming de-oxygenised and carp are dying by the hundreds.
However, this is a deliberate management action, to try and rid the lagoon
of the destructive "bulldozers" (they stir up the mud on the bottom and chew
on the banks). A few months of complete drought, followed by re-filling in
spring with the screens preventing re-entry of carp, should see an explosion
of aquatic and plant life.
At the moment, the smell of the dead and rotting fish is overpowering but
the birds are having a feast. Around 30 Whistling Kites were wading in
knee-deep (for them) water chewing away on the bodies, some of which were
still flapping; Yellow-billed Spoonbills and egrets were feeding filtering
the bugs and what not out of the stinking water.
There are still good numbers of Black-tailed Native Hens present (or lignum
chooks as the local old-timers call them), though not in the hundreds
anymore like a month or so ago. Red-kneed Dotterels are also present in
higher than usual numbers; normally they are outnumbered by Black-fronteds.
Coming home, a Tawny Frogmouth landed on one of our property's boundary
Not bad for a Christmas Eve! Have a good one to all of you.


Peter Waanders


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