Hide reveals Avon wildife

The West Australian

Bird-watching enthusiasts and bush walkers now have better access to one of the most beautiful vistas along Avon River.

The hard work of a group of volunteers around the Toodyay district has paid off, with the construction of a new bird hide and walking track.

Natural resource management group Wheatbelt NRM, Lotterywest and Department of Sport and Recreation provided funding to help the projects happen.

The official opening of the walking track and bird hide is scheduled for Saturday, August 10.

Wheatbelt NRM project officer and Toodyay Friends of the River president Greg Warburton said it had taken three years to create Bilya Walking Track.

"We've put up signage, installed seating, bridges and picnic tables, and importantly controlled weeds to help restore the biodiversity of the river," he said.

The development of the 5.6m walking track coincided with a Wheatbelt NRM project to map and remove Weeds of National Significance-listed plants.

The project happened along a 150km stretch of the Avon River, stretching upstream to Beverley.

Most of the work focused on the removal of Tamarisk and Bridal creeper which was competing out native vegetation.

"Controlling these weeds required a lot of physical work, with back pack spraying and chain sawing," Mr Warburton said.

"By exploring the Bilya Walking Track people will see a difference has been made.

"To see these weeds dead gives hope that the biodiversity will return, particularly the paperbark trees and native grasses that were being choked out."

The walking track passes by Red Banks Pool now the site of the Avon River's only bird hide.

Toodyay Naturalists secretary Wayne Clarke said interest in ornithology was strong in the region, with 50 active club members.

"Because the river is such a huge attraction, I've always wanted to see a bird hide down here," he said.

"We're lucky to have swans, white-necked heron, yellow-billed spoon bill and wedge-tail eagles visiting the river."

The bird hide has been named after well-known ornithologist and Australian Bird Atlas regional co-ordinator John Masters.

Funding of $12,000 was provided by Wheatbelt NRM's Community Small Grant project to build the bird hide, made possible through the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program.

Local Toodyay craftsman Michael Shepherd built the bird hide.

For more information about the bird hide and walking track, contact Wheatbelt NRM's Jacqui Lucas or Greg Warburton on 9670 3100.

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