Colonial waterbird breeding, Barmah Forest 2005-06

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Subject: Colonial waterbird breeding, Barmah Forest 2005-06
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 20:50:21 +1100
Hi all,

Some good news on a successful event.

At the Barmah-Millewa CRG (Consultative Reference Group) meeting earlier
today, Friday 23rd February 2007, members were given a wonderful Powerpoint
presentation on the ecological benefits of last summer's (2005-06) 513
gigalitre environmental water release. According to the presenter Paul
O'Connor of DSE, this was possibly the biggest deliberate environmental
water allocation anywhere ever. The release of environmental water followed
minor floooding from the unregulated Ovens River, which enters the Murray
upstream of the Barmah-Millewa Forest.

Three Egret species (Great, Intermediate and Little) successfully raised
young. It was claimed that this is the first time these three egret species
have all bred successfully in the forest for about 40 years.

Many egrets nested at Picnic Point, directly across the Murray from the
caravan park. They nested with Nankeen Night Herons. Presenter Paul
O'Connor believes that the lights of Picnic Point settlement may attract
insects, a food source for the Night Herons. The wetland on the Victorian
side helped provide food for the egrets. Local bird observers have often
observed in excess of 100 Nankeen Night Herons at Picnic Point.

Seven pairs of White-bellied Sea-eagles were observed and they possibly
nested successfully.

It is estimated that up to 50,000 colonial waterbirds were fledged despite
some major wind storms and a nasty heatwave. 50,000!

Native fish also responded magnificently, even Trout Cod, Golden and Silver
Perch successfully breeding. Moira Grass and some near-endangered plants
such as Wavy Marshwort also responded really well.

Measurements indicate that at least 92% of the environmental water found
its way from the Barmah-Millewa wetlands back into the Murray River system
for 're-use' downstream: some it was diverted into Gunbower Island, Hattah,
Lindsay-Wallpolla Island and elsewhere.

I understand that Paul has now given his Powerpoint presentation to about
15 groups, including Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (who
apparently intend to include a component on environmental water in courses)
and Echuca-Moama district Landcare members.Three local community forums are
being organised during which this presentation will be given.

Most wetlands in the Barmah-Millewa Forest are presently dry. Moira Lake is
being drained and it is hoped that the mud will dry and crack. This means
that the lake might be ideal for waterbirds and waders when it next
receives water.

Keith Stockwell,


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