Floods affect birds in different ways and for some Hawkesbury species, the floods are great news, while for others, the impacts can be catastrophic.
This is according to keen bird watcher Cathy Goswell who participated in the Great Aussie Bird Count and is encouraging Hawkesbury locals to count the birds in their own backyards to contribute to monitoring and conservation efforts.
Ms Goswell - who lives in Ryde - is a member of BirdLife Australia and the Cumberland Bird Observers Club, and a volunteer leading bird outings around greater Sydney, including Hawkesbury.
She said there was "great bird watching" in the Hawkesbury and locals could make a huge difference to the amount of data on record about the species and numbers in our area.
"As a bird watcher I'm really concerned about the conservation of our birds, and getting the community involved in collecting data about what birds are around and how many birds there are, and how that's changing over time," she said.
She said the Hawkesbury in particular was "really great for water birds" which can be seen around the Hawkesbury River and also Pughs Lagoon, Bushells Lagoon, Bakers Lagoon and lowlands including Pitt Town.
This year, the Great Aussie Bird Count is focussing on parrot species for which there is concern because the numbers around greater Sydney have been falling for the last nine years. The official count ends on October 23 but locals can continue to count birds afterwards and register their findings online at birdata.birdlife.org.au
According to Ms Goswell, parrots in the Hawkesbury would include eastern rosellas and the Australian king parrot.
Other parrots that would be of interest in the Hawkesbury are gang-gang cockatoos - around hilly areas like Kurrajong Heights - and the glossy black cockatoo - which Ms Goswell has seen in the Cattai National Park.
"Their numbers are being reduced because they need quite big hollows in mature trees to nest in. and we're losing mature trees to development. The 2019-20 bushfires [also] destroyed a lot of habitat," Ms Goswell said.
The floods have had a positive impact on big water birds as it's expanded their habitat. However, for smaller birds that wade and those that nest in the banks, flooding is detrimental.
"Wading birds need to feed on the edge of water courses on the muddy shores and banks. They feed on insect larvae and worms in the mud. When the water levels are so high they really can't feed so they've got to move away to other areas," Ms Goswell said.
The floods are also damaging the river banks, negatively impacting the spotted pardalote and rainbow bee-eater that dig holes to make nesting burrows in sandy banks.
"We're losing a lot of mature trees at the edge of the rivers too, they're all lost to the birds for nesting and refuge," Ms Goswell said.
Another bird that Hawkesbury locals might be able to spot - though not until next year - is the endangered swift parrot, which migrates from Tasmania to our area in the winter.
"People see them in the Cumberland Plain woodlands in areas around Penrith, Windsor, Rouse Hill, and Scheyville National Park," Ms Goswell said.
Ms Goswell wants to inspire "ordinary people who don't see themselves as bird watchers" to spend a bit of time watching the birdlife around them and make a difference to conservation counts.