Rail and crake 'abundance'

Subject: Rail and crake 'abundance'
From: "Martin O'Brien" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 09:30:39 -0816 (UTC)
As I have recently researched the conservation status of a 
number of crakes, rails and bitterns in Victoria 
(Australia) I thought the following of interest to 

With respect to Lewins Rail and Baillon's Crake I have 
critically examined the state fauna databases, literature 
and canvassed bird observers and clubs for their records.

These particular species were reported more frequently in 
the RAOU (now Birds Australia) Atlas years of 1977-81 
than they have been since.  Even the last major 
drought of 1982-83 didn't appear to have increased the 
numbers of cryptic waterbirds reported to databases.

Interestingly Australasian Bitterns have been recently 
recorded in various literature in southern Victoria, but 
the sightings are invariably of single birds and, on 
average, I suspect the numbers of these birds reported 
hasn't changed much in recent years. 

The conclusion I have come to on examination of the data is 
that several cryptic waterbirds, bitterns and also egret 
species have declined in the state mainly due to 
loss of feeding and breeding habitat in combination 
with alteration of natural hydrological regimes. 
Recent apparent increases in observations of these 
waterbirds may not be more than normal for each 

I am interested in what other states believe may be 
happening in this regard.
Martin O'Brien
Scientific Officer - Flora and Fauna Guarantee
Flora and Fauna Statewide Program
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Pde.,
East Melbourne  3002
Victoria   AUSTRALIA

tel: + 61 3 9412 4567
fax: + 61 3 9412 4586

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