Water to Booligal gives Ibis chicks a chance

Water to Booligal gives Ibis chicks a chance

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Monitoring Straw-neck Ibis nests at the Booligal Wetlands, along the Lachlan River. Photo: Dr Jennifer Spencer, DPIE

Monitoring Straw-neck Ibis nests at the Booligal Wetlands, along the Lachlan River. Photo: Dr Jennifer Spencer, DPIE

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Environmental water flows benefit bird life.

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The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) Jody Swirepik manages a large portfolio of environmental water - entitlements with annual allocations that are acquired through the Australian Government's investment in water-saving infrastructure and strategic water purchasing throughout the irrigation districts of the Basin.

During the decade of its existence, CEWH has achieved many notable successes including supporting waterbird breeding at Booligal wetlands, on the Lachlan River in NSW.

The Booligal Wetlands have been identified as one of the most important waterbird breeding sites in Australia, known for the large numbers of waterbirds that congregate to breed and forage in the area during and following floods.

Ms Swirepik said a very wet spring in 2016 triggered straw-necked ibis to breed at a scale not seen in the wetlands in 30 years, when some 200,000 birds had started to breed in one location on the Lachlan river.

At a second site, about 16,000 birds started breeding towards the end of the wet spell, which meant their nests were at risk of drying out in the hot summer weeks that followed.

"Quick intervention at this second site was needed to stop water levels receding and letting predators (such as feral pigs) get close to the nests," Ms Swirepik said.

"If the adult birds had been scared away, the abandoned chicks would have been left to starve.

"Fortunately, everything was in place for a rapid response - even though it was Christmas!

Ms Swirepik said the CEWH worked with scientists and NSW water managers to top up the wetland with water and put barriers in place to keep water levels up until the chicks had fully matured.

"Water for the environment was used to complement natural flooding and give breeding waterbirds every chance for success," she said.

They are listed in the Directory of Wetlands of National Significance and provide important habitat for a wide variety of native plants and animals, including migratory waterbirds.

This is just one example of how water is used to benefit the environment.

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