LARGE water releases from Lake Hume have produced a wildlife resurgence along the Murray River at Howlong.
Keen Howlong angler and nature watcher Bernie Kokot said recent pictures he took of the river showed a dramatic change in the river environment’s health.
The first image from June 9 showed a low river trickling beside the exposed river bed at Quat Quatta about 10 kilometres downstream of Howlong on June 9.
Mr Kokot contrasted that with a photograph he took of the same stretch of river on Wednesday at full flow thanks to a 27,000 megalitre a day input from Lake Hume and the Kiewa River.
Releases from the Hume have averaged about 20,000 megalitres a day over the past week.
“We’ve had two good years now of rain and the wetlands are recovering and so is the bird life,” Mr Kokot said.
“The magpies and ducks are breeding twice a year and there are kangaroos in places I haven’t seen before.
“It has been the best two years we’ve had for a long time.”
Mr Kokot said he spent a fair bit of time out in the bush.
“(The flows) are great news and very timely as well for Murray cod and other native species, particularly Murray crays,” he said.
“Lagoons are filling fast to provide good breeding grounds come warmer weather.”
Mr Kokot said he had seen more kangaraoos along the Murray than he had “for a long time, and it’s a good bet that brolgas will soon reappear around here”.
“The brolgas are interesting because when we had the drought they didn’t come down to Howlong,” he said.
Mr Kokot said he took the photographs to help him find cod.
“When the river’s low you can find out where the snags are where they hide,” he said.
Mr Kokot said the closest reading for around Howlong was the Corowa gauge.
“The Corowa reading might, for example, be 4 metres but it’s only about 2 metres at Howlong,” he said.
Mr Kokot said the water temperature was still a bit cold, “which can put a halt on cod breeding despite the better water”.
Despite the drought being not so long ago, the big wet is no surprise for Mr Kokot.
“I’m 67 and I’ve had a fair chance to understand and observe the weather patterns,” he said.
“Over the years you get to know that things change with droughts and floods.
“This water coming down with the releases is timely.”
Mr Kokot said he saw a farmer complain on a television report this week about how his land was going to be flooded because of the releases.
“But gee, it’s better to have some water than none.”