Native fish expanding to new ground at Mount Burr Swamp

Following the excellent winter rainfall in the South East of SA, we’re starting to see how that plays out for flora and fauna following the major restoration works completed earlier this year across the Stage 2 area of the Mount Burr Swamp Restoration Reserve. To check on progress, I recently ventured out there with two other NGT ecologists, Ben Taylor and Jonathan Tuck, to see how the fish were responding. We know that the main wetland (Mount Burr Swamp) is chock-a-block with Southern Pygmy Perch. A reconnaissance survey in 2020 also turned up both Southern Pygmy Perch and Little Galaxias in the residual wetland depressions within the otherwise drained Stage 2 project area. While it is early days in the recovery trajectory of this site, we are expecting to see these species increase both in terms of their abundance and their general distribution across this section of the property.

Southern Pygmy Perch (left) and Little Galaxias (right) caught recently at Mt Burr Swamp. Photos: Lachlan Farrington

We placed some fyke nets across some of the newly inundated areas (see the map below) and let them sit overnight. What we found were some encouraging signs signalling the journey back to its natural state is underway.

To the west of the stage 2 area (Site 1 below) we recorded 13 Little Galaxias and 17 Southern Pygmy Perch and to the east (Site 2 below) we recorded we recorded 31 Little Galaxias. Not massive numbers by any account but certainly more than we have seen in the past and also in areas which, prior to the works, would have been dry by now. Although the survey technique and effort was different due to the depth of water present (i.e. dip-netting in 2020), we can clearly see that there are more fish moving into these newly inundated areas.

Map of wetlands across the Stage 2 Area of Mt Burr Swamp – the blue shading shows the new area of inundation against the previously mapped wetlands (red) prior to restoration. Site numbers show where surveys were undertaken prior to restoration (2020) and following works this year (2023)

To get a feeling of what it’s like on the ground out there now, and to hear the Growling Grass Frogs (aka Southern Bell Frogs) voicing their approval, take a moment to view the video below, with the volume up.

Lachlan Farrington