Date: Friday, November 4, 2016

Project: Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey

Observer: Richard Kingsford

Today was our last day surveying the River Murray. The Lower Lakes, the Coorong and the Murray Mouth is a very special place. Once again it had surprises for us in terms of the waterbirds. 

Early morning at the Murray mouth

The Lower Lakes, Murray Mouth and Coorong

We only had to retrace our steps along the River Murray from about Berri to Wentworth today. It was bumpy because the wind had got up. But still pretty interesting. 

Surveying a small colony of ibis on the River Murray near Berri

pectacle Lakes on the edge of the River Murray were nearly full

The River Murray in this part of its course had flooded many of the billabongs and lakes along its way. There weren’t many waterbirds but the scenery was stunning and the water was certainly going to kick start the many different foodwebs that are important for the health of this river. This is the first time I have seen so much water in the river at this time of the year, ‘drowning out’ the locks. 

A ‘drowned-out’ lock on the river Murray

We surveyed upstream, buffeted by a strong tail wind, finding the billabongs near the river. Some of the lakes had more than fifty waterbirds but this was rare. 

Surveying one of the billabongs along the River Murray

Freshwater lake flooded from river flows along the River Murray

We landed at Mildura to refuel and then headed back to Sydney, passing over the intricate patterns made by the flood on the Lowbidgee floodplain of the Murrumbidgee River. 

Flooding on the Lowbidgee floodplain of the Murrumbidgee River

‘Crazy-paving’ patterns of flooding on the Lowbidgee floodplain

Next week – we survey the Lachlan which has had a huge flood. It will be great to get out there and see the extent of flooding, with one of the biggest breeding events of straw-necked ibis recorded underway.