Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c




20-22 May 2015
Warren Wetland (Tiger Bay)


For anybody interested in bird-watching the centre of attention in Warren is undoubtedly Tiger Bay Wetland. This wetland is within comfortable walking distance of the caravan park (practically next door) and offers vehicular parking and access from the Oxley Highway. The wetland replicates the Macquarie Marshes and was built in two stages; the earliest part, to the east of the Oxley Highway and beside the car park, was completed in 1988 and has been functioning long enough to be a fully developed wetland with a comprehensive range of plants and birds. The newer (Western) section has yet to progress much beyond a large pond with some fringing reeds and shallow water vegetation in the middle; with time it is expected to develop. There is a bird hide at the far end (from the Oxley Highway) of this section.


The older part of the wetland - opened in 1988 - has developed features of the Macquarie Marshes and is where most (but definitely not all) birds are found. The dead eucalytpus trees are important features providing nesting hollows essential for successful native bird breeding.

Fully-formed walking tracks in both parts of the wetland allowing visitors to look around. A good view of the older wetland (and birds on the water and in the reeds) can be gained from along the Oxley Highway and local drivers are no doubt used to seeing bird-watchers with binoculars, tripods and long lenses wandering along the footpath beside the highway apparently not looking very carefully at where they are going.

No attempt is made to confine birds in the wetlands and they are free to fly to the adjacent sewerage treatment works (public access not permitted there) or to anywhere else. Bird-watchers have to be as alert as ever to spot any bird species in the wetland; many turn binoculars to the treatment works as well.

An excellent feature of the wetland is the preservation of standing dead eucalyptus trees providing nesting hollows essential for native birds to successfully breed. A possible down-side to preserving nesting hollows is the possibility that feral pigeons (or other non-native species) readily seen around the wetland may take them over and exclude native birds thus defeating one of the reasons for developing the wetland. If it is not already in progress it may be an ideal project for a higher degree student in a relevant discipline to record the species of birds using nesting hollows in Tiger Bay wetland.

Beside the car park on the eastern side of the Tiger Bay Wetland an educational centre called Window on the Wetlands is being developed to open in June this year (2015).

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This facility is sponsored by RiverSmart Australia which seeks to get people to enjoy, preserve and look-after the Macquarie River. The former Catholic School hall has been relocated beside the wetland to provide the venue.

bird hide

The bird hide at the far end of the newer section will become particularly useful as the that part of the wetland develops. This bird hide is particularly user friendly and a great improvement on many older bird hides at other wetlands.

Underlying much of the work on the Tiger Bay Wetland is a (generally unspoken) school of thought that Warren should no longer emphasis the Macquarie Marshes for bird-watching and similar nature based activities because it is so far (more than 100 kilometres) from Warren although still in Warren Shire; access to Macquarie Marshes can also be limited by rain whereas Tiger Bay is accessible in all weather. There is a parallel belief that the National Parks organisation has degraded the Macquarie Marshes with inappropriately timed water releases endangering breeding birds instead of helping them. This thought process maintains the Tiger Bay Wetland should be regarded as a more accessible and more natural wetland with healthier plants, birds and animals than Macquarie Marshes.

Whether the relative sizes of the two complexes, and the different levels of diversity in plant, animal and bird species at the two sites, makes it practical for Tiger Bay to replace the Marshes is open to debate (short of catastrophic mismanagement and decline/failure of the latter) but there is no doubt that Tiger Bay could be effectively, and usefully, developed as an introduction to Macquarie Marshes for the more dedicated visitor, and as an end in itself for the less enthusiastic or average, visitor.

black-shouldered stilt

The Black-winged Stilt appreciates very shallow water around the Tiger Bay Wetland for feeding and makes its way purposefully picking up food items.

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Macquarie Caravan Park in Warren is ideally located for bird-watchers interested in the adjacent Tiger Bay Wetlands. It is entirely practical (and very pleasant) to stroll from the caravan park to the wetlands, spend several hours observing and photographing birds, then stroll back to the caravan park. On some days of this visit it was more prudent to take the car in case shelter from threatening rain was needed.