Brolgas flocking to The Green Swamp near Glenthompson

This time last year I reported a pair of Brolgas at The Green Swamp near Glenthompson; the first time I had seen this species at the wetland since undertaking restoration works in 2014.  Since then there have been regular sightings and the numbers of birds have grown. Mid April 2019, there were 36 Brolgas in and around the remaining water.

Congregations of Brolgas at this time of year are characteristic of the species. Whilst pairs are very territorial during the breeding season, communal roosting at this time of year may be an adaptation to avoid predation and perhaps keep warm in the cooler months. There is also less suitable habitat across the landscape during drier months, so birds gather in the few good swamps that remain. There are several known flocking sites in western Victoria where Brolga numbers reach several hundred, but as far as I know, flocks at The Green Swamp are a new phenomenon.

Most of the vegetation has dried back and the usual mass of swans, ducks and spoonbills have departed, but the unmistakable grey lumps in the distance tell an ongoing story of habitat recovery. A subtle change is happening in the vegetation; cane-grass (Eragrostis infecunda) is growing healthily where a main drain feeds into the wetland. Much of the wetland is dominated by water ribbons and  low-lying vegetation, so this taller species provides a different habitat for other species, and perhaps some good nesting material for any Brolgas which may decide to stay on.

Brolga flock at The Green Swamp.
Closer view, showing some diversity in bird size.
Lachlan Farrington