The Wonder of Wetlands

Celebrating World Wetlands Day on 2 February

Bronwen Scott

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Georgetown, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott

In summer, when it rains and the roadside verges fill with water, wildlife moves in. Patrician-profiled swamphens in navy blue and royal purple stalk through the flooded grass. Dragonflies hover on Dolly Parton diamante wings. Double-barred Finches and Red-browed Firetails flit in busy flocks, their activity first attracting predators, then confusing them.

At night, the water shines like opal under the lights of passing cars. The noise of diesel engines, of rusted exhausts and tyres on blacktop is not enough to drown out the croaks and creaks, the kazoo blasts and trills, and the rasps and rubber band snaps from the ditches. Although the vehicles are loud, the frogs are louder still.

It rains — and an ecosystem assembles itself.

This is a story from a long time ago. The details may be misremembered.

I returned to my office to find voicemail full of messages. The maintenance department was emptying a pond, ripping down all the reeds and sedges along its edge and scooping out the algae and Azolla with a front end loader. By the time I got there, a mountain range of sloppy black mud had been dumped on the grass. Dragonfly larvae and water boatmen struggled to find their way back to the water.

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com