Rare bird bonanza after Lachlan water boost

Thousands of birds in Lachlan wetlands have found refuge from drought and are now thriving, thanks to NSW and Commonwealth environmental water flows.

Blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis) swimming

Three threatened species – freckled ducks, blue-billed ducks and brolga – were among thousands of birds spotted in wetland surveys over spring and summer.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said that seeing this broad range of birds shows the success of the plan to attract waterbirds to multiple sites at varying times in the Lachlan catchment through targeted water flows.

"Water for the environment was delivered to 9 separate wetland sites at different times during the season, supporting habitat for a diverse range of waterbirds as the water moved down the river.

"In addition to the threatened ducks, Australian shelduck, pink-eared duck, black swan, glossy ibis, red-necked avocet, pied cormorant, Australasian darter and Eurasian coot were sighted.

Migratory shorebirds were also seen in the wetlands before they left for the northern hemisphere. It's key we have water for these 'global citizens' before they leave Australia from September to April to fly north to places including Siberia and Japan to breed.

Water lasted on some sites from four to 8 months, up until April in many places, while one deep wetland in the Cumbung Swamp will retain water to provide an ongoing drought refuge.

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Ms Jody Swirepik said that by working together we can make a real difference and improve the outlook for some of our threatened species.

"It's great to see this partnership with local field ornithologists and private landowners has contributed to successful flows across the Lachlan catchment," Ms Swirepik said.

"It was essential to water these key drought refuges to help keep both our bird populations and the global populations alive," Mr Kean said.