The early signs were certainly there, but there is now little doubt that summer has come early this year and, unlike last year, spring rains have completely gone missing.
So we find ourselves in the situation where (in the last couple of weeks) the Wannon River has stopped flowing into Gooseneck and Brady Swamps. This is in sharp contrast to last year when, with a wetter spring and early summer rains, the Wannon continued to flow until around Christmas time.
While this is not fantastic news for wetlands this year, it is providing us with another useful scenario to test what effect the restoration trial structures will have in a below average rainfall year in the Southern Grampians.
Let’s start by checking on Gooseneck Swamp, where the swamp is teeming with life and the restoration trial structure is retaining water in the swamp again nicely this year – in spite of reduced inflows meaning that levels are about 20cm lower than the same time last year. Coming across a couple of lively tiger snakes reminded me that the frogs (and other snake food) must still be doing ok at the swamp this year!
Over the lunette to Brady Swamp, and much like Gooseneck Swamp, this wetland could certainly be a lot fuller this time of year. However, in spite of the below average rainfall and inflows, the trial structure at this site is also doing a great job of retaining the water that now remains in the wetland (preventing it from being lost down the artificial outlet drain), now that the natural river outlet has well and truly stopped flowing.
Finally, a quick check on Walker Swamp (this time upstream of Gooseneck Swamp off the main Wannon flowpath) also revealed that the trial structure there is doing a great job of retaining some water in this wetland long after it would have dried out in similar years past.
All in all, we can certainly be satisfied knowing that each of these wetlands, and the wide range of species that call them home, are being given a vital boost in a year when every drop of water counts!