Bird Islands in Dams

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Bird Islands in Dams
From: Andrew Hobbs <>
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 19:38:22 +0900
If the major problem is people then constructing islands might help. If it is foxes or cats then don't bother. Both can swim at least 1 to 2 km if they decide it is necessary. A few hundred metres (in an 18 hectare dam) is not even a barrier. Plus if the water level goes down then the distance becomes even less.


Jim Smart wrote:
Walka Water Works at Maitland, NSW was built around 1885. A large dam was constructed and engines made by James Watt and Co. used to pump water from the Hunter River, purify it, then pump it to Newcastle and the Lower Hunter Valley coal mining villages. The works have long ceased to supply water and are now an historical site and nature reserve.

Recently control of Walka Water Works passed from the NSW Department of Works to Maitland City Council. The Council have now hired a consultant, Corkery Consulting, to assist in the preparation of a new management plan for Walka Water Works. Members of the Hunter Bird Observers Club have prepared a submission to Maitland City Council, pushing for the area to be preserved as a Nature Reserve and Historic Site. One proposal we made was for some of the shoreline of the original impoundment to be altered so as to form an island or islands as bird sanctuary's. Foxes are often seen in the area.

A good case can be made for constructing islands in dams for the benefit of birds. Also a good case can be made for not significantly altering an important historic site. We will have to justify our case at public meetings on the future of Walka. I would like to ask members of Birding-Aus for their experience with islands for birds in large (ca.18ha) dams. Does the cost, both financial and social, justify the benefit? What is the minimum useful island size? Should it be vegetated with trees or grasses/reeds? How deep should the surrounding water be?

Any comments would be helpful.

Jim Smart
East Maitland NSW

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