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

To: K W Stockwell <>
Subject: Birding-Aus: Weekly Times front page - "Plains Blunderer"
From: Chris <>
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2012 08:52:07 +1100
Thanks Keith, I though I'd heard grazing had been ongoing but wasn't sure of my 
facts. Very good to have you clear things up, and kudos to your group and to 
Parks Vic for the hard work they've been putting in.

As far as what the Plainswanderers are doing at the moment, surely there's a 
chance they have moved further inland to take advantage of wetter conditions in 
drier areas, where habitat may currently be more suitable? Your description of 
what they require is a lot like some of the places on the Birdsville Track and 
Flinder's Ranges areas I helped survey earlier in the year (not that we saw 
any, but maybe further east would be a chance).


Sent from my iPhone

On 24/11/2012, at 10:44 PM, K W Stockwell <> wrote:

> 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
> Secretary
> Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park Inc.
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