Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020

Project: Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey

Observers: John Porter (UNSW/DPIE), Shannon Dundas (DPIE)

Pilot: James Barkell NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (DPIE)


Departing Warrnambool in cool conditions, our first task was to head 280 km northwest to join survey band 2 near Bordertown in South Australia to finish counting on this section and complete the Eastern Australian waterbird survey. We made slow progress into the teeth of a 40 knot headwind and temperatures rose steadily as the landscape below became browner and much dryer.

Turning eastward along the survey band saw us traversing past Little Desert National Park and a series of shallow temporary lakes and wetlands; in these dry conditions we found most wetlands had little or no water and there were very few waterbirds. Pink Lake near Dimboola had a shallow pool of hypersaline water – but no waterbirds.  A complex of shallow saline lakes west of Horsham sometimes supports moderate numbers of waterbirds – but today there was no water and no waterbirds.

Cropland near the South Australian border in survey band 2

Counting over Pink Lake

After refuelling at Horsham we continued eastward, searching for occasional farm dams or water storages, where we found only low numbers of waterbirds – black swans, cormorants and grey teal.

North of Bendigo we found some water in an unnamed reservoir, as well as Winghee and Tang Tang swamps where there were low to moderate numbers of waterbirds – black swans, white ibis, grey teal black duck and Australian shelduck.

Counting over Unnamed reservoir

Having completed our counting on survey band 2, we turned our attention north to the Murray River and the Gunbower Koondrook Perricoota forested floodplain. There was very little water on the floodplain and waterbirds on the main channel were scarce – only a few pelicans, cormorants and wood duck.

Counting over Gunbower Koondrook Perricoota wetlands and the Murray River channel

Continuing north west we followed the Murray river channel up to Mildura – our final stop for the day.

Counting over the Murray upstream of Mildura

Blog by John Porter