Nightfall on final day.
Night falls on the last day of shattered wings and broken families, of the gut wrenching helplessness as our struggling native waterbirds are blasted from the sky near homes - ours and theirs.
Today was the last Sunday for this year to be rudely announced before daylight, by what sounded like canons in our backyard.
This years recreational shooting of our native waterbirds has now ended.
In its place, a sick foreboding hangs like fog, of what is to be found by our otherwise beautiful shores tomorrow, and the next day, and the next..
For the months of being the domain of a handful of shooters' will leave its mark, as it always does, for months to come.
Amongst the ammunition cartridges and soiled toilet paper will be terrified and wounded birds, some bodies pierced with pellets left to suffer silently. Some will be missing life-long mates. Some will succumb to injury and die slow painful deaths. Others will be too terrified to let anyone near.
Along with the otherwise healthy birds who could have bred and assisted in recovering our severely declining bird populations, birdwatching and bird photography are now dead for a long, long time.
This is the aftermath the duck shooters don't see.
Whilst our children can now enjoy their backyards for kayaking and bushwalking and visitors are happy to come again, we are left wondering as we always are, why.
Why do the rates we pay not buy us peaceful enjoyment of our own homes? Why are the majority of the public who love their native birdlife, not considered in this crazy pandering to less than 0.4% of the population who shoot our birds for recreation?
This season makes the question even more prominent.
Because while the number of duck shooters has dwindled to rock bottom (sadly still enough to cause issues for locals who live with it), other rural communities are prospering from the benefits of nature based tourism.
Lake Tyrrell now sees up to 1000 visitors a day. Winton Wetlands - where they shoot birds with cameras- saw a huge 44% increase in visitors last year now at 52,000, about a quarter of Kakadu's visitation, just to one area near Benalla despite drought conditions.
For many rural communities across Victoria doing it tough, just a fraction of the visitation enjoyed by Tyrrell or Winton would go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of their towns.
Recreational duck shooting is banned in WA, QLD, ACT and NSW.
Theres a better way for our waterways.
Picture Australian pelican, courtesy Eleanor Dilley.
Sadly, pelicans, swans and other non game birds are too often mistaken for ducks during duck shooting season.