New bird skins are said to bring amateurs and seasoned bird watchers to the gum swamp

Three new bird hideouts are being built at Gum Swamp, near Forbes in Central West NSW, to help Twitchers get closer to the action.

The new additions to the local art association complement the small refuge in the wetland that was built in the 1990s.

Keith Mullette, a member of the Forbes Art Society and ornithologist, said Gum Swamp is known for its diverse bird life.

“It has forest and it has wetlands so there are always birds here and you can always find plenty of choice – you never miss,” said Dr. Mullette.

“There are a number of birds that appear in the headwaters [of the Lachlan River] belonging to the eastern birds.

“When you get to Forbes, you get a crossover where you get more and more western birds, so that’s a really important point.”

A wide variety of birds visit the wetland near Forbes.(ABC Central West: Lauren Bohane)

More than 160 species of birds have been registered in the swamp, including protected species such as the freckle and the musk duck.

“Some will likely never be seen again, like an emu – it’s been a long time since an emu was seen here,” said Dr. Mullette.

The freckled duck
The freckled duck is one of the birds that nest in the area.(Delivered: HWC)

“But there are other birds that are more common, like the Latham’s common snipe.

“It’s just great for waders.”

Jayden Gunn, coordinator of Birdlife’s Central NSW Woodland Bird Project, said Gum Swamp is a nationally significant place.

“It’s such a fine example of a healthy wetland ecosystem that is pretty unusual in this part of New South Wales,” he said.

“The species that live there … are practically impossible to find anywhere else.

“So these areas are very important for the protection of these species and for bird watchers and enthusiasts to be able to observe these species in the wild without disturbing them.”

Latham's snipe
Latham’s snipe are a common sighting.(Delivered: Geoffrey Dabb)

‘Another perspective’

Kim Muffet, a member of the Forbes Art Society who oversees the design and construction of the new hides, said the original skin was popular.

“I think this [new hides] are quite unique in that they are two-story which gives you a different perspective on the aquatic area, “he said.

The existing bird house was also renovated as part of the project.

“It was a Besser block concrete building, so we just painted it and we’re going to put a sculpture there,” he said.

A small, two-story wooden building in the bushland, to which a ramp leads.
The new hiding spots are positioned so that the observers have a good view of the swamp.(ABC Central West: Lauren Bohane)

Dr. Mullette said a lot of thought has gone into building bird skins.

“You need to think about the visibility of the birds you are looking for, and adequate protection for them to prevent the birds from seeing you, and just general comfort for the bird watchers,” he said.

No experience required

The Kunstverein hopes the new hiding places will attract bird watchers from all over the country and, when international borders reopen, from all over the world.

Dr. Mullette said bird watching is a pastime anyone can enjoy.

Two men in hats stand on a railing in front of a bird feeder.
Forbes Art Society members Keith Mullette and Kim Muffet were heavily involved in the project.(ABC Central West: Lauren Bohane)

With decades of experience, his advice to those new to the activity was to be calm and wait.

“If you make noise you won’t see much, but if you are still and not moving and you are in hiding, the birds will eventually perch on the water … and come straight up.”


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