After looking at Gooseneck Swamp with Rowena on her second-last day with NGT last week, we then spent the afternoon checking on conditions at Long Swamp. I have been told by Nelson locals that the discharge from Long Swamp into the Glenelg River Estuary via Oxbow Lake this year has been really significant (as a result of the heavy rainfall events on the coast in July and August), so I was curious to see how things were looking at the upstream (eastern) areas of the swamp between White Sands and Lake Mombeong.
We started out at Nobles Rocks to find this outlet continuing to freely flow to the ocean, and carrying a greater volume of water than I observed there during last year’s visits. (Please click on images to enlarge)
From there, we walked the 5 km track through the dunes and along the coast towards White Sands, and on the way came across a beautifully marked Bearded Dragon taking advantage of the last afternoon sunshine.
At White Sands, the impact of the natural closure of the artificial outlet since about 2005 is continuing to unfold. As a result of the July and August rains, this is the most water I have seen at the site – with the entire walkers campground inundated almost back to (within a metre or two of) the long drop toilet structure at the base of the dunes.
The view from above the campground – comparing the same view from November last year – is below. Note that by November 2012, water levels had receded significantly from their peak last year, but this does give an indication of the new range of conditions now prevailing at the site.
As a result of the Long Swamp Fish and Frog Study in 2012, we discovered that the wetland habitat recreated as a result of the natural closure of the White Sands outlet is supporting a range of fish and frog species – including two that are nationally threatened – and causing some desirable shifts in vegetation community structure.
To continue to inform and improve the conservation management of Long Swamp, NGT has submitted grant funding applications to the Department of Environment & Primary Industries Communities for Nature Grants. The aim of the grant is to continue to build upon the work completed to date, by undertaking a restoration trial on the Nobles Rocks outlet – based on (and supported by) the observed positive changes occurring for aquatic habitats and species at White Sands. We are not likely to know the outcome until later in the year, but will continue to keep you informed of the latest news via the blog.