Farmer builds own swan lake

Landowner turns la­goon into bird haven

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE OVER 50 - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

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

❝ That re­ally peeved me, be­cause I watched them build their nest, lay, hatch them out just to see the foxes get them.

— Reg Kerle

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 850 sta­tioned 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.

PHO­TOS: JACK LAWRIE

NA­TURE LOVER: Reg Kerle checks out the is­land that he built as a bird sanc­tu­ary at his Aber­corn Rd prop­erty.

The man-made is­land, com­plete with old car, of­fers nest­ing birds a safe haven from foxes and other preda­tors.

An old Austin 850 that pre­vi­ously be­longed to Reg Kerle se­nior now sits on the is­land his son built.

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