A waterbird training event was recently held with Traditional Owners from the Barapa Barapa and Wemba Wemba at Lake Murphy near Kerang. This event, led by the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA), is the first of two, to provide Traditional Owners with wetland waterbird monitoring background and skills. The day included presentations and demonstrations from the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) and BirdLife Australia.

Lake Murphy, a site which receives water for the environment, is now included in a large-scale monitoring program called WetMAP (Victoria’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program for environmental water). Frogs, vegetation and birds are being monitored at this wetland. 

Training started with a background to CMA wetland water management, waterbird guilds and WetMAP. There was a demonstration and discussion on zooplankton/macroinvertebrate sampling (led by ARI’s Phil Papas) and a survey for bittern in the Tall Marsh at the northern end of the wetland (although no bitterns were observed unfortunately!). In the afternoon, Darren Quin from BirdLife Australia and Dan Purdey from ARI led bird observations/identification (using scopes/binoculars) at the southern end of the wetland. 

We also learnt from Laura (Barapa) where to find Bardi grubs (they inhabit the roots of a small wetland shrub). The shrub can also be used as a fish trap - meat is laid in the middle of the plant which is then placed in the water. Come back later and you might find fish, yabbies or shrimps - what a way to get your dinner!

The WetMAP team at ARI and DELWP really values the strong collaboration with CMAs, BirdLife and a range of consultants. WetMAP is monitoring the response of vegetation, birds, frogs and fish to watering events and collecting the data needed to help optimise and prioritise water delivery in Victoria.

Members of the North Central Catchment Management Authority pose with Traditional Owners at Lake Murphy