Moon Moon Swamp waterbird colony count

A small but significant wetland in the state’s central west is bursting into life after recent rainfall and river flows.

Aerial view of Moon Moon Swamp

Moon Moon Swamp, east of Booligal, generally only fills every few years but when it does it can hold water for up to 24 months, providing important habitat for native plants and wildlife alike.

Senior Environmental Water Manager Dr Joanne Lenehan said the resident river red gums provided the perfect place for cormorants, egrets and darters to build their nests.

‘While the water remains, these veteran trees grow stronger and provide a safe haven for the young chicks sheltering in their branches,’ Dr Lenehan said.

‘This site is one among a mosaic of wetlands scattered across the region offering a variety of different habitats for waterbirds and other wildlife to feed, breed and raise their young to maturity.

‘During recent surveys of the wetland our team detected more than 600 nests, which is a similar number to two previous events in 2020 and 2016.

‘Moon Moon Swamp is important as it is a particularly good example of a wetland that plays a substantial hydrological, biological and ecological role in the natural functioning of the Lachlan river system.

‘Our program can deliver environmental flows to some sites, but other wetlands - like Moon Moon Swamp - rely on high river flows to fill and recharge from groundwater and rainfall to maintain vegetation condition.

‘The river red gum and black box trees require inundation to their roots to maintain their health and stimulate regeneration. These trees can then support major bird breeding events thereby providing important habitat for animal taxa at a vulnerable stage in their life cycles,’ she said.

Translucent flows and operational surplus have seen water flowing into Moon Moon Swamp since August 2021. Moon Moon Swamp quickly filled and spilled across additional floodplain habitats and wetlands, including lignum and canegrass swamps, and will provide refuge as water recedes from the rangelands.

After recent dry times, opportunities like this are important to restore habitat and wildlife populations, ensuring their resilience into the future.