13,000 hectare Lake Cowal has begun to spill into Nerang Cowal

This incredible wet season has filled the 13,000 hectare Lake Cowal, and it has begun to spill into Nerang Cowal.

Mal Carnegie from the Lake Cowal Foundation has been out surveying the vast lake area in the past two weeks, and said it began to spill into Nerang last Wednesday night or Thursday.

Cowal is about 60km south of Forbes and 43km northwest of West Wyalong, spanning the Forbes and Bland shires.

It can be 21.5km long and 9.5km wide across farmland in the dry seasons, under an average 2.5m of water at times like this.

Carnegie has been a resident of the Cowal area all his life, and has had a front row seat to its incredible season-to-season transformation.

He said the lake had taken three summers to dry completely after the 2016 floods but then remained dry from February 2019 to March 2020, when the drought began to break and the first of the local water was captured.

That 70ha increased to more than 1300ha with flows from the Bland Creek last winter, finally increasing to about 45 per cent of the lake's capacity or covering 6000ha.

It dried down to about 18 per cent over summer, but this winter's incredible rains have seen it fill in the past week.

Cowal captured first local rainwater, then major flows from the Bland Creek which captures run-off from the southern region of Grenfell, Stockinbingal, Temora and even Young.

In the past month, the Lachlan River has reached flood levels at Jemalong that have sent it spilling across farmlands into Cowal as well.

"It started running in from the river about August 23, and it's been flowing in ever since," Mr Carnegie said.

It's another exciting new season for the lake, which Mr Carnegie says it in a "constant state of change."

"The birds, the fish, the plants, the frogs, the invertebrates all change with the water levels," he said.

"That's what they've adapted to do, it happens with all these ephemeral inland wetlands."

He carried out a water bird survey in August and noted 30 different species - and those are completely different to the species that were present 12 months ago.

"It's a very diverse area," Mr Carnegie said.

Water bird surveys are conducted every year - although the person who usually does them couldn't travel here under current COVID restrictions - and a total 277 bird species have been recorded.

At present it's home to Eurasian coots, hoary-headed grebes, grey teal ducks, purple swamphens and more.

He's expecting colonial waterbreeding in coming months - conditions are likely to suit varieties of ibis and spoonbill.

It's not surprising that Cowal is increasingly a mecca for twitchers and eco-tourists, with hundreds drawn to the area when COVID restrictions allowed last Spring.

Learn more about Lake Cowal and the Lake Cowal Foundation online at their website https://lakecowalfoundation.wpcomstaging.com/ or follow their Facebook page to keep up to date with bird sightings.

Lake Cowal Foundation Limited is a not-for-profit Environmental Trust established in June 2000, primarily sponsored through a negotiated royalty from Evolution Mining's Cowal Gold Operations for the life of the gold project.