Dry times

Where's the water? Its much further to go to get there now for the moorhens.

Where’s the water? Its much further to go to get there now for the moorhens.

It has been a very long, hot time at the wetlands. We hardly got any rain in December or November, and nothing at all of any substance for many months before. So with the dry westerly winds and temperatures in the high thirties, much of Goulburn has not merely hayed off, huge swathes of shrubs are dying and the ornamental trees from the northern hemisphere are losing leaves as if it were autumn, while plants that like subtropical climates are being bleached white.

At least we still have water in the large pond, even if the anabranch has almost run dry and the wader pond actually has. Consequently the water ribbons have gone from being fully aquatic to being semi-aquatic and their long juicy leaves have toughened up. The deep pools are now shallow and the shallow pools are now expanses of mud. This has brought quite a few waders. Last Wednesday we saw 5 snipe probing the mud. They are impossible birds to photograph: they see us first and clear off, they are incredibly well camouflaged and are invisible when standing still,  or they duck into the water ribbons every chance they get.

SIgns of shrinking pools: little pied cormorants getting dirty in the mud.

SIgns of shrinking pools: little pied cormorants getting dirty in the mud.

The low water has brought the return of the Great Egrets and the White-necked Herons. The little black cormorant and the little pied cormorant are now able to catch food more easily as it is concentrated in the pools. They just fling themselves into the green-brown water and get covered in mud as they wallow around after fish. As was the case last year, the deep water hardheads have gone and have been replaced with nearly 100 more terrestrial wood ducks. The paspalum is getting quite a trimming.

It was so hot working in the sun, our volunteers had to have morning tree across the road under the pines, then call it quits an hour early.

It was so hot working in the sun, our volunteers had to have morning tree across the road under the pines, then call it quits an hour early.

 

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