Neil flies 450 km to Moodie Swamp;
Robbie at Tootgarook?!
The following piece was posted in late May this year 2016. Bittern watchers take note…
As if Neil’s spectacular 450 km dispersal wasn’t enough, photos taken in May have watchers wondering which of their other bitterns are down near Melbourne. But first Neil. He left his rice crop at Murrami and flew to Moodie Swamp, a top notch canegrass wetland between Benalla and Yarrawonga in northern Victoria. It was a u-turn of sorts, taking him via the Wakool River between Moulamein and Swan Hill.
Initially they thought he might be heading toward the same area Robbie dispersed at last season, but he made two of his own new connections. They know that the wetlands of northern Victoria and canegrass wetlands are part of the network that sustains the world’s largest known Australasian bittern breeding population. “To think Robbie was in our arms at Murrami just 20 days earlier was amazing.”
Moodie Swamp had recently received environmental water and is well known for its significance to wildlife, not least as a regular Australasian bittern site. While studying Brolgas 16 years ago, I had the pleasure of finding bitterns there and meeting May Moodie. She was a great custodian for this great swamp.
Now, back to Melbourne. One of the bitterns was photographed at the Tootgarook Swamp in May. That’s down around Port Phillip Bay. We know it’s not Neil. We’re trying to work out who it is. Could it be ROBBIE?!
Massive thanks to Cam Brown and Jess Durrant who found this bittern. They both contributed to the crowd funding and joked that one of the tracked bitterns might rock up there. It’s a fitting reward for them and the swamp they love so much. Irrespective of the identity, the link between this most significant wetland near Melbourne and the rice crops of the New South Wales Riverina has been cemented.