Dawkins Lake lies smack-bang in the centre of Macksville, a smaller community in Northern New South Wales. The Old Pacific Highway connects this town with many other communities.
I have passed and rested at this inviting small nature reserve a few times over the years. In those days, this highway was the communal artery between Sydney and Brisbane. Bird or any wildlife were far and in between. I never had the urge to grab my camera to explore what may show up in front of my lens.
All this had changed due to one major factor.
A highway bypass was built in recent years, which eliminated all heavy-duty and commercial traffic from this small community.
This aspect contributed positively to local bird and wildlife, particularly around these slow-moving waters.
They became a breeding haven for a variety of birds.
I wasn’t the only observer of this breeding spectacular. A few parrot species were marvelled by increasing bird numbers just as well.
A windmill powers the water filter system to ensure a low but constant amount of water-flow.
Water pumps guarantee a minimal level of oxygen in these otherwise stagnant waters for fish and other underwater dwellers to flourish.
No life would exist without irrigation, particularly in hot summer months. The windmill towers monumentally over these sanctuary islands and adds to the photographic aspect.
Rotating silver blades looked already outstanding in blue skies, but turned this nature reserve into a breeding haven.
The natural layout of this pond is favourable for all birds. Fallen tree branches stick out like a flooded forest.
They are perfect vantage points to spot bypassing fish, insects or crustaceans.
On the flip side of this very coin, submerged foliage offers a perfect hiding habitat for submarine species.
Shared with all other lake inhabitants, space may get a little tight.
Social distancing was imposed by a neck-length. This is a different but just as popular waterlogged branch, which almost reaches the mainland shoreline.
The gap was just big enough to prevent uninvited guests from the mainland to enter.
Long-legged birds were particularly fond of this prime piece of Real Estick.
Great white egrets guarded this bridge to snatch a catch.
Realistically, the backyard sticky is a little tricky to navigate.
These exposed branches offered favourable drying stations.
Even though some trains derailed. Another few water inhabitants needed to soak up warm afternoon rays before nightfall. Turtles are cold-blooded just like all reptiles.
Not everyone was brave enough to face an egret without regret.
An adult turtle moved up the tree trunk, allowing others to follow in his footsteps.
Once the branch was secured, the whole family joined for an afternoon siesta.
Online turtles on a twig, fabulous.
Water dragons were in perfect disguise and hard to spot.
It’s best to keep a low profile, or one could end up in a beak.
A carpet of small green surface plants covered the western, wind-sheltered side of Dawkins Lake.
This factor made it harder for ambush fishers to pick their target, but equally as hard for pickers to be spotted.
Dark-water reflections left their mark just as well.
All aspects added perfectly in a picture frame.
Not only on a breathtaking colourful spectrum.
Or for the variety of birdlife to focus on.
One simply couldn’t go wrong with outrageous background options.
The lake’s floating carpet of green foliage cultivated astounding patterns on the water surface.
Shadows and reflections created bizarre images in colour and structure.
On trees up high, deep blue skies intensify birdlife within their nesting spots.
Even more so with wings spread out.
Imposing paperbarks and gumtrees offered a rustic layout for bypassing birdlife.
Trees connected to water and wildlife naturally.
All trees on both islands were occupied for communal housing.
Birds that didn’t acquire a nesting spot on the island retreats took shelter in scrubburbia. Trees on the mainland were feathered with nesting sites just as well.
Breeding conditions were so favourable, that some birds laid another egg after the first chicks hatched.
This increase the chances to raise at least one chick to adulthood.
Up to three different sized chicks were identified in some nests.
Most nests inhabited at least two chicks.
All of these fluffy offsprings were insatiable hungry.
They need to eat and increase their growing-staus.
Life in these treetops is not for weaklings. Nature’s law, only the strong survive, prevails.
Slender branches offer less support for ever-growing chicks.
Overpopulation generates heavy traffic within the tree-tops, which causes chaos on regular basis.
It’s easy to slip off or to get caught within the greenery.
Aerial and snaky predators may show interest in some tender offspring too.
But it’s the extreme natural forces of wind, rain and hail, which impact the young ones most.
We had unusual severe weather patterns this summer, which caused floods and fallen trees.
Some birds only cling on with one wing like this poor buggar.
There was absolutely nothing I could do for him. I had to accept nature’s law.
None the less, if the Macksville Council created this ambush and resting area intentionally for those reasons, then congratulations to you.
I actually am surprised that no other people were here at my long visit.
The whole nature reserve makes perfect sense to me.
And even if most people complain about noise and smell, I personally thank you to create such tremendous nature extravaganza.
Observing the quantity and variety of bird- and wildlife in close proximity surely was an incredible occasion.
We need to remember, that even the smallest change to our environment can have a drastic impact on natural habitats. In this case, a very positive outcome.
My follow-up to this story will have a closer look on individual and group dynamics.