Warm days and the drought has breeding season in full swing across the Hunter

GATORADE: Male alligators sunning themselves in balmy conditions at Hunter Valley Zoo. Picture: Simone De Peak.
GATORADE: Male alligators sunning themselves in balmy conditions at Hunter Valley Zoo. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Magpies are swooping, plovers protecting their eggs, reptiles are out of hibernation and the alligators ever so amorous at Hunter Valley Zoo.

It seems our unseasonally warm Winter and dry conditions have played havoc with animals' body clocks, most mating weeks ahead of schedule and making appearances where we least expect them.

In some locations across Maitland, Plovers and Magpies are starting to mark their territory. They are nesting and starting to protect their young and the swooping incidents were in full swing at the end of July.

Hunter Valley Zoo Manager Jason Pearson said the mating season is well ahead of schedule and could become the norm with global warming.

"We've had cooler nights but the warm days in the low 20s have been Spring like and that has triggered the animals' breeding season and they have become more active," he said.

"Normally reptiles have a four to five months of hibernation and don't usually make an appearance until September.

"Everything is way ahead of schedule. There are three pairs of Plovers nesting around the zoo. They're a few weeks in advance.

"What we find with birds and a dry spell is they end up with a high infertility rate in their eggs which could happen this season," he said.

"This could become the norm if global warming continues and it will take its toll on nature. We need the seasons," Mr Pearson said.

The warm Winter and early Spring conditions also have snakes on the move early.

"We will be seeing much more interaction between reptiles and people because there is not enough water in the bush for them to survive.

"They are starting to come into backyards in search of pools or ponds so be on the lookout," Mr Pearson said.

He said householders should be aware there is not a lot they can do, but they can ensure they keep yards free of clutter and debris where most reptiles like to hide.

Earlier this week Fairfax Media reported on the high incidence of feral deer and kangaroos making their way roadside for green pick.

"Motorists need to be cautious because these animals are in bigger packs at the moment and that little bit of moisture run off from the road, greens up the verges and that’s what they want to feed on. Just be vigilant."

He said deer have been a problem in the area which was once home to a healthy deer industry. 

“That was a few years ago when there were several deer farms around Cessnock. They have since folded, some lost fences and infrastructure during the Pasha Bulka storm so deer escaped and now there are rife and have become a pest," Mr Pearson said.