by Rosie Pounsett 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Water water everywhere. That’s the situation at Lake McIntyre at present. After being so low for such a long time before the rains came in late July, we wondered if the lake would fill enough to stop it drying out over the summer.
Well, we need not have worried about that eventuality as it started to rain and has forgotten to stop. The water level is at about 1.58m at the moment and it peaked at 1.59, from only 1.38 early in September.
As the water level is so high, we are missing the wading birds that usually visit this time of the year because there are no mudflats for them to feed on. However we do have some visiting ducks to make up for the lack of waders.
There are at least 6 Freckled Duck visiting the lake at the moment. They are larger and greyer than the other ducks and have a distinctive head shape. They like to stay in the middle of the lake and can usually be seen sleeping on the edges of the islands.
There are about 6 Blue-billed Ducks consisting of at least 4 males in breeding plumage, with females and juveniles also present.
One female Musk Duck is making herself at home around the water reeds near Frog Hollow and Rotary Island. A female Musk Duck called in to the lake last year and raised a duckling on her own, so we are hoping for another successful nesting.
Swimming around in the middle of the lake where the water is the deepest are several Australasian Shovelers – they can be identified by the very distinctive large bill.
We have one lonely Great Crested Grebe waiting patiently for a partner to arrive, and 2 Pink-eared Duck swimming around in circles in the middle of the lake near the islands. An Egret has also been visiting, watching the water from the low branches of trees on the edge of Osborne and Rotary Islands. 8 Hoary-headed Grebes can be found swimming and feeding together in the shallower parts of the lake and the Purple Swamphens have been involved in a lot of breeding activity resulting in chicks of varying sizes being spotted right around the lake edges.
The visiting Latham’s Snipe are few at the moment, and until the water level drops and there are some mud flats for feeding on, the numbers of these birds will remain very low. The same can be said for all wading birds including the Red-kneed Dotterel, although there have been 2 of these sighted, both out on the islands.
Away from the water and into the trees and shrubs you may see a large flock of Black-tailed Native-hens feeding on the grass on the far side of the lake. These birds are very timid and any movement will send them running into the tea tree on the edge of the lake. Sharing that side of the lake with the Native-hens is a Kookaburra who seems to be a regular visitor at the moment.
Amongst the water reeds around the lake are Australian Reed Warblers and little Grassbirds. Both of these birds are heard rather than seen, but patience in a hide will often reward the watcher with a glimpse or two of them as they fly from reed to reed.
We have a friendly Currawong patrolling the carpark area through to the BBQs looking for handouts of food. Please DO NOT FEED it. You should not feed any wild birds as this can make them aggressive (who does not have a story about the seagulls at Meningie?), and bread is actually harmful to all birds as it contains large amounts of salt and yeast which are definitely not on a bird’s dietary requirement list.
All in all it is an exciting time to visit the lake. Take a walk around. The grass is lovely and green, the boardwalk has water underneath it, and there are plenty of birds to observe.