The almost 350mm of rainfall received on our Fitz-Stirling reserves on Noongar country near the south coast of Western Australia in the first half of 2021 has been a welcome relief to a landscape that's experienced drought conditions for the previous three years.
This year’s figure is just shy of the long-term average yearly rainfall for the area and has already shown signs of rejuvenating the bush and the animals that live in the region.
The rain has also provided perfect conditions for planting seedlings at our restoration site on Monjebup Reserve by providing much needed sub-soil moisture. This 400 hectare site has been steadily restored with native vegetation since 2012.
With the help of Bush Heritage supporters, volunteers and sponsors, we've seen previously bare paddocks transformed to a thriving natural ecosystem supporting a range of fauna.
Species affected include Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata), Honey Possums (Tarsipes rostratus), Western Pygmy Possums (Cercartetus concinnus) and of course the endangered Carnaby’s Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris).
As I met with the volunteers on a rare sunny morning in early July, I could hear the distant calls of the Carnaby’s, and we were all hopeful we'd glimpse them during the day.
On the way to the planting site, we passed through an area of bush with a high density of proteaceous rich flowering plants planted in previous years. Suddenly, we were welcomed by dozens of Carnaby’s foraging on Cauliflower Hakea (Hakea corymbosa), Golden Stalk Banksia (Banksia media), Parrot Bush (Banksia sessilis) and Grevillea tetragonoloba.
This was a real treat for the volunteers and extra special as the main purpose of the planting day was to provide foraging habitat for these majestic birds, with funding through the generous support of Loro Parque Fundación and the Madden Sainsbury Foundation.
The 1500 seedlings we planted were carefully selected as forage species for the Carnaby’s and include a mix of proteaceous vegetation including hakeas and banksias endemic to the south-west corner of Australia, an area recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot.
These seedlings were planted into gaps within the existing reveg and will create another proteaceous rich area that will provide food for the Carnaby’s on their travels to the breeding sites in the Wandoo woodlands.
A further 3500 seedings have since been planted at the site along with a further two hectares of direct seeding.
With another 100mm of rain in July and more rain forecast to fall over the coming weeks and months, this is looking to be a good year for the plants and animals of the Fitz-Stirling region, particularly for the beautiful Carnaby’s Black-cockatoo and the newly planted seedlings.