As twitchers know, Lake Cargelligo is the place to start when on the hunt for the most species sighted or rare and threatened birds! But for anyone with an appreciation for birds, in particular waterbirds, Lake Cargelligo is one of three noteworthy lakes (Lake Cowal and Lake Brewster the other) within 150 km of one other. All three are part of a state government annual spring waterbird diversity and abundance surveys, and are known waterbird breeding sites.
In particular, a large colony of little black cormorants respond regularly to sustained high lake levels where there is dead standing timber of fringing river red gums; which given that most waterbirds require 2 to 4 months to fledge, is associated with floods. The shallow edge of the lake, fringed with rushes and sedges, such as cumbungi and spiny sedge, is a favourite hunting ground of egrets and herons. While a receding shoreline provides expansive mud flats ideal for foraging shorebirds and waders, such as the sharp-tailed sandpiper, red-kneed dotterel.
Renowned naturalist David Attenborough documents some of the animal world’s most intriguing and surprising evolutionary traits and behaviours. His latest documentary featured the pelican breeding event at nearby Lake Brewster after the 2016 floods. The word for pelican is gulambali in the local Wiradjuri language (Gulambali Wibiyanha Galingga: pelican sitting on the water) and these majestic birds of the sky relied upon Lake Cargelligo for feeding once their breeding site, Lake Brewster, dried up.
If bird watching, keep an eye out for pelicans with an orange leg band. Pelicans from Lake Brewster, about 60 km from Lake Cargelligo, have been banded as part of a research project to learn more about where they go and if they return to Brewster. Central West ABC Open hosted a short video outlining the purpose of the research and the need to protect breeding colonies from disturbance and predators for up to 4 months per cohort as it takes that long for baby pelicans (pinkies) to fledge.
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