Northern Vic report

To: "Greg Oakley" <>, "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Northern Vic report
From: "simon starr" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 20:13:16 +1100
Hi Greg and all,
The situation at Lake Boga has been fascinating to watch this summer, as it
has dried up for the first time  since I don't know when, but its certainly
more than the 15 years I have been in the region.
For those of you who have been to the Kerang region, as you drive the road
to Swan Hill you see many lakes full of water. They are part of the
Torrumbarry irrigation system, storing water reserves for further downstream
of the Murray. They are permanently full, usually pretty devoid of birdlife
other than a few Pelicans and some reedbed species around the edges, and
infested with giant European Carp.
Lake Boga it seems has been maintained for the tourism it brings to the
region.  I know that they had a battle to keep it full after the 2002
drought year, but this year the water on the Murray system finally ran so
short that they shut the water off.
In the last few years that I have checked the lake out it has been quite
good for Terns, perhaps due to the yearly outbreak of "midges" that is a
well known amongst locals.  These insects are quite a size, and I don't know
their proper name but they obviously feed the Whiskered Terns who can reach
the thousands in number.Some small numbers of waders and ducks hang out
around the edges plus Cormorants and Pelicans.
This year as the lake dried, mudflats formed and the midges emerged, the
Whiskered Terns were there in force, maybe 4 or 5 thousand. But also for the
first time that I've seen were many hundreds of duck and waders. Hundreds of
Black-winged Stilts, Red-necked Avocets,Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-necked
Stints and Red-capped Plovers were accompanied by lesser but still good
numbers of Banded Stilts, Marsh Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers and
Greenshank.  One day I picked out a Red Knot, the first one I've seen in
northern Victoria. As the end of the year approached the birdlife was
prolific and I expected it to continue through into the late summer.
Just before Christmas widespread rain occurred across south-eastern
Australia causing flooding in parts of Victoria and NSW. On my next visit
nearly every Whiskered Tern had left ( I'd love to know where they are ! ,
anyone know ??).
Then around new year the heat wave and shallow water conditions caused a
mass kill of the mature Carp in the lake much to the consternation of the
locals who had to endure the smell.  There are many hundreds ( a few
thousand ?) of the biggest carp you've ever seen, lined up around the
For some reason unknown to me this seems to have triggered the exodus of
most of the smaller waders. By the 10th of Jan, my last visit, there's still
plenty of Masked Lapwings, and some Stilts but not much else in the wader
department.  Why would they not like the dead fish around ? Fussy ??
A few hundred Pelican were still there also plus increasing numbers of
Whistling Kites.
Hopefully when the lake is refilled, it will benefit from losing the Carp,
they must have a huge effect on the ecology of the lake.

Simon Starr,
Pyramid Hill,

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