Re: White-throated Grasswren

To: Stephen Ambrose <>
Subject: Re: White-throated Grasswren
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 12:03:08 +1000
Dear Stephen,

Do you know if the Dutch birders used tapes to call in the birds or field-craft to find the WTGW?


Carl Clifford

On 18/09/2010, at 8:20 AM, Stephen Ambrose wrote:

Hi All,

I received the following response from Richard Noske last night re the
White-throated Grasswren. Richard conducted research into this species in
the late 1980s.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde, NSW

On Fri 17/09/10 11:20 PM , "Richard Noske" <> wrote:

Hi Stephen

Nice to hear from you, and thanks for thinking of me re: WTGW. I don't get
Birding-aus, but may join up when I'm more settled into our new life and
home (Brisbane).

I am not sure how seriously to take Darryel's email re: Gunlom as, according to an email from Mike Jarvis on the following day, a group of Dutch birders
picked them up there around the same time.

WTGW are now considered threatened because satellite imagery shows that fire has increased in frequency and intensity in the sandstone country of western Arnhem Land (including the E margins of Kakadu) over the last few decades.

So it was good news that a fire abatement program, called "WALFA" was set up
some years ago, with long-term funding promised from Darwin Liquified
Natural gas, to reduce fire frequency and greenhouse gas emissions from the
region. But I haven't seen (or sought) any recent reports of its

How threatened is WTGW? I don't think we'll know for sure until new surveys are undertaken. It would be worthwhile re-visiting the sites I visited in the late 80s to see if the birds still occur there. In fact, for some time I have been thinking of applying for a grant to do just that- as some of the
best sites are only accessible by helicopter. A few months ago I spent a
weekend in western Arnhem Land with two other birders, looking for them
(unsuccessfully) in a new area, but there was evidence that these outliers
and escarpment had been severely burnt.

So if anyone else is interested in securing funds for a new survey, I'd be
happy to collaborate with them.



Dr Richard Noske
Hon. Senior Research Fellow
School of Environmental Research
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, Northern Territory, 0909, Australia.
Phone: (07) 3300 2757 (AH); 0437 652 048 (M)

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Ambrose 
Sent: Thursday, 16 September 2010 12:53 PM
Cc: 'David Stowe'
Subject: FW: [Birding-Aus] White-throated Grasswren

Hi Richard,

There has been concern expressed by some people on Birding-aus about the
impacts of inappropriate burning in western Arnhem Land on arid-zone bird species, especially the White-throated Grasswren (see below). I thought you may be interested in reading about those concerns, especially as a result of your research interest in the WTGW, and maybe we could get an appropriate
response from you.

Kind regards,

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Ambrose Ecological Services Pty Ltd

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of David Stowe
Sent: Thursday, 16 September 2010 10:40 AM
To: Geoffrey Jones
Subject: White-throated Grasswren

This is really sad news.
Quite seriously - How do we fix this problem? Is there any way that BA
or someone can communicate with whoever is in charge of these things?
I know nothing about fire regimes except that they can obviously have
a major influence in the abundance or otherwise of some of our rarest
birds, but would be happy to do what i could to help change this
situation. I just have no idea how?

David Stowe

On 16/09/2010, at 9:30 AM, Geoffrey Jones wrote:

I am forwarded this on behalf Daryl Binns

Hi all, I'll make this a joint email to all birders and someone can
post it
on Birding Aus if they like.

I just had 2 days of intense searching for the WTGW in about 40 deg heat
and convinced it's not around especially Gunlom. I had Ian Davies
assist in
some of it and used his tape. We had 2 way walkie talkies and when Ian
needed a rest, going was a bit tough, I moved further afield.

We used a method worth a go if anyone in same situation, he would play
recording in his walkie talkie and I would turn volume up and I had
the call
at hand without lugging the extra gear around.

There has been no sightings of the birds this year according to the
in the Cafe,

I believe Phil Maher had 2 days there without a result.

There was bugger all birds up there, not even the Lovely Wren or
Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon and only flushed one Partridge Pigeon, no
Wallaroos either.

All I can advise now, if you are thinking of going there, don't waste
time and effort for a few years.

Fire last year has destroyed vast amounts of Spinifex Grass and if Parks
keep burning like they have done again up top this year, there is not
chance of the Habitat coming back or the WTGW's

I spoke to the Ranger in charge of SPARKS and WILDLIFE'S of that area,
had managed to stop burning there for 3 years, but he advised me that
don't have a lot control over the rightful owners who burn where and
they like.

Plum Ck has also be burn recently again, so that area not likely to
for the same reasons.

While there, I did searches of 2 other area's East and N/E of Plum Ck
there was good Habitat, the spot East was better up on the Escarpment
but no
water around. and the N/E area opposite Plum Ck  was also good habitat
had water in the creek some distance below but not that far for the
Wrens to

Where too now, I guess I'll try Edith Falls areas as there has been
of them seen there further back.

I have a mate who has a Chopper and said he could drop me in some
time, so
I may take him up on that or walk in from the Falls.

The Ranger told me there is still good unburnt habitat up on the
where Gunlom Ck flows from and still water, but it's at least 10km back.
Seen out of a helicopter while surveying.

Long walk in that terrain.

On conclusion, go look for Princess, Scarlet-chested and Night
Parrots, I
think you will have more success.


PO BOX 1419
08 89885827/0417 170171


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