Cullen is callin'
13 December 2016
The much-anticipated bird-breeding event in northern Victoria is on, and the internationally important Lake Cullen is the place to be.
In previous wet years, Lake Cullen has attracted hundreds of thousands of birds, and this year is no exception.
"Birds know floods mean good breeding conditions and this year they are spoilt for choice," North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Environmental Water Manager Louissa Rogers said.
"We managed flows into Lake Cullen in October and November and the birds have responded. Lake Cullen is definitely the place to be if you are a bird.
"It is teaming with birds such as black swans, Australian shellducks, pelicans, black-winged stilts, hoary-headed grebes and whiskered terns, and this year we have been excited to see threatened Australasian bitterns and magpie geese.
"We are monitoring the bitterns and magpie geese to see if they are breeding. If they are, it is a great result."
Ms Rogers said the majority of known birds nests are either in the grasses or on floating platforms, making management of any flows tricky.
"Because the lake has been dry for a few years, the vegetation is flourishing. This and the water bugs that are thriving provide an abundant food source for the birds," she said.
"We put the water in and the birds came. Now we have to try and keep water there, particularly over summer, to ensure birds and plants can complete their lifecycles.
"We have managed the flows carefully since spring, with one eye on keeping space in the lake if it was needed for flood mitigation. We are currently putting about 2,000ML of environmental water into the lake, which will lift it by up to 20cm keeping it about one third full.
"That will allow us to help prepare the lake for summer, but not disturb nests. Once the breeding season is over, we are planning to top up the lake, which will help keep things booming in the medium term. We will then allow Lake Cullen to evaporate to dry naturally.
"Lake Cullen is also a popular recreational lake, and these flows will also provide a rare opportunity for a whole host of recreational opportunities.
"We are managing these flows very carefully and we are very excited by the successes achieved so far."
The flow is in line with the Seasonal Watering Plan's wet scenario actions.
Regular updates are posted on the North Central CMA website.
North Central CMA
Tel: 03 5448 7124