The 2013 winter rains in south-eastern South Australia have produced the first effective flows to fill regional wetlands in more than a decade. The classic chain-of-ponds wetlands along the eastern side of the region’s parallel sand ridges have filled to over-flowing, kick-starting breeding and regeneration of wetland species on a regional scale. Tens of thousands of waterbirds are taking advantage of ideal conditions and rich food sources for a good breeding season. The good conditions are allowing hundreds of thousands of young red gums to develop into small forests of saplings in riparian zones along the watercourses. As the water levels dry down later in the season, water plants will populate the shallow pools and continue the food bonanza for young ducklings and fish to thrive.
With less than 10% of the original area of wetlands remaining in the South East region, a good breeding season like this offers hope for future survival, and significant recovery from damage suffered during the Millenium drought. The sight of massed young river red gums more than one metre high along streams and the sound of thousands of banjo frogs giving their distinctive ‘bonk, bonk’ calls show that Nature has not forgotten how the ecosystem is supposed to work. It is a welcome change from the drought-stressed years, and comforting to see the extent of recovery and recruitment.