Birds, birds, and more birds at Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps

Thousands of birds have converged on the Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps near Leeton in what could become the biggest waterbird flocking to the area for 20 years.

Flock of birds at Tuckerbil Swamp near Leeton

Brolgas, bitterns and terns have been spotted after environmental watering provided the perfect conditions for feeding, foraging and - in some cases - breeding.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has worked with the Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetland Advisory Committee to initiate and manage the environmental water flow.

The spectacle should last into 2015, with the best bird viewing at dawn and dusk. Fivebough swamp has two bird hides which enable visitors to view the wetlands with minimal disturbance to wildlife.

Local bird enthusiast Keith Hutton said conditions were shaping up for a feathered frenzy, likely to peak in November and continue for some months.

'We’re seeing insect levels building, small fish emerging, and significant plant growth,' Dr Hutton said.

'Recently at Fivebough I saw two bitterns, eight Brolgas, two Gull-billed Terns, and a pair of Swamp Harriers displaying high over the cumbungi reeds, sky diving, spinning, looping and calling all the time – a spectacular show.

'At dusk, when 10 to 20,000 terns are settling for the night, it’s like witnessing a snow storm. As bird numbers rise, conditions should be perfect to support them.”

OEH Senior Environmental Water Management Officer James Maguire said approximately 400 megalitres of water had been allocated to Fivebough swamp with a further 240 megalitres for Tuckerbil. This allocation was made available through the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Sharing Plan.

'The ecological response so far is promising,' Mr Maguire said.

'We’ve seen Sea Eagles and a number of threatened species take advantage of the environmental water and hope to see more, including migratory shorebirds.

'Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps traditionally attract birds from as far afield as Siberia, Japan, Korea and China.

'As the watering event progresses, we hope to see even more threatened species making use of the site, including a number of migratory shorebirds,' he said.

The Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps are listed on the Ramsar Convention for wetlands of international importance. The swamps support a significant population of the threatened Australasian Bittern and provide refuge for several waterbird and migratory shorebird species. As such, they are a priority for environmental watering.

Photos for news media: Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps

Read more about Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps Ramsar site

Contact: Lucy Morrell