Almost right on my doorstep is a wonderful little bird habitat that has basically been constructed by the local community.
At various times in the past, the Heyfield Wetlands was the town common, a rifle range, sporting ovals, a horse racing track and apparently the parade ground for the local Light Horse Brigade.
The area is a naturally low-lying part of the Thomson River floodplain. Over time, it was severely neglected and degraded.
In the 1998, work was started to convert the area to a working wetland. Ponds, lagoons, tracks, bridges and boardwalks were constructed, and thousands of trees planted, and this work continues today. The aim is to reinstate the natural floodplain, restore the native flora and fauna, to provide recreational facilities and to beautify the entrance to the town.
Basically, the area takes the town’s stormwater ‘run off’ and allows it to filter through a system of reed beds and ponds before overflowing into the nearby river.
In 2003, the Wetlands Information Centre was opened. This building features beautiful interior timber lining and unusual radial sawn external timber cladding. It is manned by volunteers 7 days a week and as well as performing the usual information centre role, is available for hired functions, meetings and tourist groups.
The project is enthusiastically supported by various groups including local authorities like the Shire Council, the Department of Sustainability and the Environment, the Catchment Management Authority, the service clubs, and the schools.
My bird list for the Heyfield Wetlands contains a few good ‘ticks’ – Weebill, Baillon’s Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Great Egret, Latham’s Snipe, Pacific Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Spotless Crake and White-plumed Honeyeater among them.
The area is right on the edge of the town and I am always surprised and delighted at the variety of birds I can see almost every visit.