Weekly Times front page- "Plains Blunderer" (Simon Starr)

Subject: Weekly Times front page- "Plains Blunderer" (Simon Starr)
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 13:31:17 +1100
Hi all,

I took a bit of an interest in plains-wanderers (PW) while I was
writing the Riverina Biodiversity Plan for NPWS (as it was then) back
in about 2001, although I will freely admit that others know more than
I. Neville Schrader was one of the experts that I consulted while
doing that work so I would take on board Neville's comments.

There is a theory that most of the native grasslands are in fact
induced, ie created as an artifact of habitat modification by people.
That isn't to say that they don't have a lot of conservation
importance- they seem to have a high proportion of threatened species,
incl. PW. So what did exist where the grasslands are now? Well from
memory, in the riverina they were thought to be some sort of saltbush
shrubland, presumably with some grasses. The question that comes to
mind of course is where were the PW? Did (or do they) they live in
saltbush? I assume we still don't know the answer to that.

As far as having grassland that is suitable for PW, I think that
during wet years the only way to keep the grass open enough for them
is to have a low density of sheep. At least that was the idea. Others
will know more specifics on this, David Parker is one that springs to
mind, if he is still on birding-aus. Oolambeyan NP in NSW was being
managed in this way.

I take Neville's point that just because something becomes seen less
often doesn't mean that it is plunging towards extinction. However,
birds like PW make me nervous. They seem to me to have a tenuous grip
on the planet- I wonder whether during one of the apparent population
drops they will not come back sufficiently.


Dr Michael Todd
Molesworth, Tasmania

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