A fixed-wing plane flew over the reserves in the Fitz-Stirling on the South Coast of WA earlier this year and on-board was a Light Detection and Ranging device, or LiDAR. This device uses pulses of light from a laser to create 3D models of the terrain. These models are then interpreted to identify the telltale circular shaped mounds that could possibly be Malleefowl nesting mounds.
Last week we had the exciting task of walking cross country with our GPS to find these 'mounds' on the ground.
We checked a total of 42 possible mounds on our Red Moort Reserve (part of the Monjebup cluster) and found that most of them were, in fact, malleefowl mounds and an amazing 30% or 13 mounds were active.
This means that a pair of birds were using them for their breeding activities.
In addition we found that many of the inactive mounds had been active in recent years as shown by eggshell on the surface of the mound. This is a spectacular result that augers well for the future of malleefowl in the Fitz-Stirling.
We don't know why this reserve has so many active mounds when compared to other reserves in the area so we're putting out remote cameras soon to track predator activity. The mounds will be checked on foot each year to monitor them.
LiDAR technology has proved to be very useful for malleefowl mound searches. In the past this was done by 'human chaining', where people walked in lines through thick bush looking for mounds – an arduous task. We'll certainly be keen to repeat LiDAR surveys on our other reserve and in our restored areas in the future.
Bush Heritage gratefully acknowledges that this project was made possible through the National Malleefowl Recovery Team and South Coast NRM.