WATER and nectar birds from New South Wales are heading to the Wimmera to escape the drought in ever-increasing numbers.
David Brennan, chief executive of the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, said the birds might eventually permanently migrate to the area due to climate change.
Mr Brennan is urging people to let the authority know if they spot the bird species, so authority officials can plan to protect the species.
“We’ve seen an increase of northern species birds from plumed whistling ducks to nectar-seeking birds, budgies and cockatiels,” Mr Brennan said.
“As the northern parts of Murray-Darling Basin dry up, birds will move to where conditions are more favorable, and we’ve been lucky enough the last two or three years that we’ve had average to below-average rain, so we haven’t had the same experienced the same drought conditions and we have better habitat and food sources.”
Mr Brennan said the authority was working with landholders to plant vegetation or fence off existing areas to protect the habitat for the birds.
“We have really good uptake from farmers interested in fencing off the bush areas on their properties or along rivers and streams, and all those sort of things make the Wimmera a much better place for birds in situations like (the drought in NSW),” he said.
“But (for) members of the general public, we’re always interested if people see a bird that’s unusual to the area we’re keen to know about that, so give us a buzz or contact us on Facebook.
“Each year we do a catchment condition report on the health of the catchment, and if we notice a particular species is starting to have a presence in the Wimmera, we’ll either adjust our environmental flow watering or change the tree-planting varieties so we can create habitats for those species.”
Mr Brennan said Natimuk Lake, Green Lake, Albacutya and the Wimmera River were some of the hotspots for waterbird viewing in the region.
Mr Brennan said the authority expected some of the species moving to escape the heat to eventually permanently settle in the Wimmera if the low rainfalls continue, and equally some bird species native to the region would also relocate further south.