Birding-Aus: Weekly Times front page - "Plains Blunderer"

Subject: Birding-Aus: Weekly Times front page - "Plains Blunderer"
From: K W Stockwell <>
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2012 22:44:06 +1100
Hi all,

Much misrepresentation has apparently been printed in news media about the bad management of the grasslands of Terrick Terrick National Park (I was birding at Binna Burra in Lamington National Park when this issue hit the press).

Despite what has been reported, sheep HAVE been retained on the national park's grasslands ever since the private properties were purchased for inclusion in the park. Before the past wet summers, the sheep were removed in spring when indigenous wildflowers were in bud and not returned until about Easter time.

Trust for Nature has also grazed sheep on its indigenous grassland properties.

There have been few wildflowers on the grasslands this Spring and last. Before the recent summer rains ~ during the drought years ~ the Spring grassland display on the Terricks grasslands was sensational: many of the park's paddocks were awash with all the colours of the rainbow. Native peas, lemon beauty heads, everlastings and the like covered large areas.

During the 15 years of drought, Plains-wanderer numbers appeared to be increasing and, toward the end of the drought, it was usually possible to locate a Plains-wanderer within a few minutes of commencing a search.

Over the past two summers, when rainfall in this usually dry area was well above-average, much of the area around Terricks was flooded. Parts of the grassland paddocks were flooded. This has resulted in a prolific growth of native grasses, resulting in a changed composition of the biomass. Conditions are no longer suitable to meet the needs of the Plains-wanderer. It demands space with mosses and bare ground between grassland tussocks. For food, it needs the seeds of various herbacious palnts.

To help reduce the biomass, over the past two years or so, sheep have been left in the park without being removed over the summer period. Some areas have been slashed. Some paddocks have been burnt to reduce the grass cover. Further burns are planned for Autumn.

There has been an extensive fox-baiting programme (liver baits followed by 1080 baits), covering both the national park and private properties, over a 50km radius. Most land-holders took part in the baiting programme ~ they were provided with free baits. Surveys over two 100km transects carried out prior to the baiting and afterwards indicate a substantial drop in the number of foxes and rabbits. The collapse in rabbit numbers is partly due to an outbreak of myxamatosis.

Volunteers survey the grasslands at Terricks quarterly, counting the number of Plains-wanderers and other grassland animals observed.

The latest grassland survey was completed about a week ago. Lots of Stubble Quail were observed, many of them breeding. Some Little and some Red-chested Button-Quail were observed. But only one female Plains-wanderer was observed.

Over the past two years, surveys in Terricks, on the Patho Plains, at Oolambeyan and elsewhere, including on private grazed properties, have located very few Plains-wanderers. Perhaps they have located to sites unknown. Perhaps most have died. Alarm bells should be ringing.

But to claim a lack of management effort is to blame is rather unfair and untrue. To claim that sheep were removed when the park was created and only recently reintroduced is incorrect. To blame Parks Victoriaor its rangers for the collapse in Plains-wanderer numbers is unfair.

Keith Stockwell
Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park Inc.

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU