Songmeters and cameras record ducks of all descriptions at Gol Gol

Ducks with blue bills, ducks with pink ears and ducks with white freckles are putting on a show for remote cameras and songmeters at Gol Gol wetlands in South West NSW.

Blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis) swimming

For the first time at Gol Gol wetlands, Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) staff have set up special recording devices and remote sensor cameras to help monitor the birdlife response to water flows.

OEH Senior Project Officer Michael Todd said it’s been a surprise to find that eleven species of duck have made an appearance and lots of the birds are breeding, including Grey Teal and Pacific Black ducks.

“As well as visiting the wetlands to survey the species we have set up two remote sensor cameras to capture images of the birds as they swim or walk by, which is proving to be a very handy way to collect data when we’re offsite,” said Dr Todd.

“We’ve also installed four songmeters on the edge of the wetlands that record bird calls for a few hours at dawn and in the evening.

“The different duck calls recorded are quite easy to distinguish, confirming the presence of each species – but ideally these recording devices will capture something surprising.

“The number of birds found at the wetlands at the moment is more than I would have predicted for a relatively small area that has been dry for so long.

“We’re hoping that with this technology we’ll catch a glimpse, or at least hear from species we don’t expect,” Dr Todd said.

OEH Water Management Officer Sascha Healy said the ducks and a host of other native birds are enjoying a bountiful supply of food thanks to the spring rains and environmental flows.

“We ‘topped up’ the wetlands with environmental water late last year so birds, frogs and aquatic plants could continue their lifecycle,” said Ms Healy.

“Gol Gol Lake was last inundated in 2011, whilst the neighbouring Gol Gol swamp last received water during floods in the early 1990’s.

“We’ve been monitoring the impact of the recent environmental flows and the most recent data coming in shows there are 27 different species of bird making use of the Gol Gol wetlands.

“Two of these species: the Freckled duck and Blue-billed duck, are listed as threatened, indicating that this productive wetland ecosystem is providing suitable conditions for this species’ survival,” said Ms Healy.

OEH will continue to monitor the site for the next few months. For more information about environmental water, see Environmental water - what is it?

Photos: www.flickr.com/photos/nswnationalparks/albums/72157676358858244

Contact: Vanessa Fuchs