Current status of the Plains Wanderer

To: "'Birding Aus'" <>
Subject: Current status of the Plains Wanderer
From: "Richard Nowotny" <>
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2012 09:07:56 +1100
This informed contribution to the discussion by Keith is most welcome and
very helpful.

If Phil Maher is reading these posts I wonder if he might add to the picture
from his special perspective in the Deniliquin area.

Richard Nowotny



-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of K W Stockwell
Sent: Saturday, 24 November 2012 10:44 PM
Subject: Birding-Aus: Weekly Times front page - "Plains


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


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


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


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


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


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.




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