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Abercorn farmer builds his own swan lake

Reg Kerle has constructed a safe haven for nesting birds on his property.
Reg Kerle has constructed a safe haven for nesting birds on his property. Jack Lawrie

IT has taken more than 12 months but Reg Kerle has turned a tiny lagoon on his Abercorn property into a makeshift bird sanctuary.

Originally a small pond, it became a nesting spot for swans when Mr Kerle raised the bank.

But whenever the water level dropped due to dry weather, foxes would kill the nesting swans and their babies.

"That really peeved me because I watched them build their nests, lay and hatch them out just to see the foxes get them,” Mr Kerle said.

"I was using some soil to build up a paddock so I thought we'll put the scrapers into the shallow water to make it a deeper water hole.”

A year ago, when he realised simply making the water deeper wouldn't work, Mr Kerle enlisted machinery operator Lee Benecke to help build a man-made island in the middle of the lagoon.

Bird life began to return to the area and eventually the swans came back.

Just two weeks ago, the babies hatched.

Today, the lagoon is around two and a half metres deep and is home to ducks, geese and various other visiting bird life, as well as two swans and their remaining baby, now safe from predators.

While a fox could theoretically swim the lake to get to the nest, Mr Kerle said being on an island gave the mother an advantage in protecting her baby.

Mr Kerle's wife Di thought it was amazing to see the lake come alive.

"I think it's ingenious,” she said.

"When they nested and came out with the little babies after all these years, that was something.”

An old Austin 850s tationed on the island once belonged to Mr Kerle's dad, making it something of a monument.

"It was some way to use it, at the time I was collecting scrap and it was too good for that,” Mr Kerle said.

"My nephew Colin said 'why don't you put the ute out there?' so I spoke to Lee and he left a track for us to get it out on the tractor.”

Mr Kerle said looking after the land and trying to make it liveable for the wildlife was all part of the job for him.

"To me it's all part of farming,” he said.

One of the reasons he and his wife bought the property was its proximity to Three Moon Creek which helps attract wildlife.

The lagoon is now practically a bird sanctuary, though Mr Kerle plans to put cattle in the paddock.

He also tried putting redclaws in the lagoon but the birds ate them all.

Bird-watchers and other visitors have come by to check out the lake, which can be seen from Abercorn Rd.

Topics:  swan lake


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