Students welcome migratory birds

Students from Swan Reach Primary School have welcomed migratory birds back to the Gippsland Lakes at an event hosted by Greening Australia.

Greening Australia Project Manager, Martin Potts, said the event was the third in a series aimed at connected students to the habitat, culture and health of the Gippsland Lakes.

“We had more than 40 students participating in a range of activities including using plants to weave baskets, doing Waterwatch activities with BugBlitz to see how and what the birds feed on and a bird walk to identify some of the birds at the silt jetties,” said Mr Potts.

“A highlight of the day for the students was a ride on the barge out to the cut to try and spot more birds on the water.”

The students have participated, with children from Nicholson Primary School, in three events hosted by Greening Australia. The first was a trip to the Keeping Place to understand the culture of the Gippsland Lakes, the second was a National Tree Day event planting more than 700 trees at a wetland site in Johnsonville and the third event focused on birds at the silt jetties.

“It’s been fantastic to see the students connect to different aspects of the Gippsland Lakes,” said Mr Potts. “The aim of the program has been to educate the future custodians of the Lakes about the importance of looking after them.”

The return of migratory birds to the Gippsland Lakes highlight the international importance of the Lakes as habitat for birds from all over the world.

“These birds are literally flying for their lives,” continued Mr Potts. “Birds coming to Australia are flying from all over the northern hemisphere – from Japan, Russia, Alaska and many other countries.

“They’re looking for food and safe habitat which the Lakes are renowned for.”

In 2007 a female bar-tailed godwit was tracked flying 11,680km from Alaska to New Zealand in nine days straight. It is the longest recorded bird flight on the planet.

Projects to make the Gippsland Lakes a safer place for migratory birds include restoring wetland and reducing fox numbers.

“It was fantastic to see the kids participating in a range of activities that helped improve their environmental knowledge, gain a better cultural understanding and have a lot of fun!”

This project is funded by the Victorian State Government for the health of the Gippsland Lakes.