New Brolga recruit at Walker Swamp another example of wetland restoration success

Around this time two years ago we captured a photo of a brolga chick at Walker Swamp, adjacent to the Grampians National Park. This was the first confirmed recruit at the site since restoration works were undertaken in 2019, identified from a wildlife camera photo several months later. Guests at NGT’s 10 year Anniversary event last year might recall seeing the parents and chick put on a show for us, and judging by things then, this chick was well on its way to becoming part of the wider flock which occurs in the Willaura area.

Last year was a bit of an anomaly with some extremely high water levels through late spring and early summer after the floods, so with a return to something approaching normal conditions this year I was interested to see if we would have another breeding event. NGT supporter and Walker Swamp neighbour Doug Craig left me a phone message back in September saying that he had seen a “lone brolga with a very red head” around Walker Swamp and he wondered if there might be a female sitting on a nest somewhere nearby. We’d been keeping an eye out but hadn’t seen anything to confirm, despite Mark also previously observing three pairs of Brolga loitering around various parts of the wetland earlier in the season.

When I dropped by the southern portion of the property last week, I noticed a pair poking around. Usually they disappear pretty quickly but this pair wasn’t in any real hurry and I wondered if there might have been a chick nearby. I scanned around but again, couldn’t confirm.

Anyway, NGT’s Tom Sheehan was able to provide the good news last week that “yes”, there is another brolga chick roaming around the Walker Swamp property this year. The photo below shows just how tiny this chick is, and explains why I didn’t spot it the week before.

Brolga chick with parent at Walker Swamp, October 18th 2023 (photo by Heinz de Chelard)

While we get a real kick out of seeing these outcomes, they really aren’t that surprising given what we know about the capacity of wetlands for rapid ecological recovery and the wide range of species that quickly find and utilise restored wetlands. In fact, there’s quite a few other wetlands we’ve worked on over the years which are now reliably producing new recruits to the western Victorian Brolga population.

So if you’ve got a wetland on your property which might be suitable for hydrological restoration and you would like us to take a look or are interested to learn more, we can help – so feel free to get in touch with either myself – (0401 208 717) or Ayesha – (0429 021 500).

Lachlan Farrington