What’s Bush Heritage doing?
When we bought Boolcoomatta Reserve in South Australia’s arid rangelands back in 2006, it was to secure a landscape under-represented in Australia’s National Reserve System. At the time there had only been a few records of Plains-wanderers on the property.
With sweeping plains of saltbush shrublands and grasslands, Boolcoomatta has enjoyed more than a decade of conservation management and has also benefitted from effective goat and fox control through the state government’s Bounceback baiting program.
Enter science intern Emily Matthews who spent three months at Boolcoomatta in 2017. We can only imagine her surprise when a Plains-wanderer ran in front of her as she was driving across the property.
Slamming on the brakes to let it pass, Emily counted herself lucky to have seen the rare bird at all. But then, just a few hundred metres further down the road, she spotted a second.
“Our first thought was, ‘What’s happening here?’” recalls the Federation University graduate. “We couldn’t believe it. One night we found a female and then we found a male nearby, so we assume they're a pair. We also found an active nest with eggs,” she says.
Overall, Emily recorded eight Plains-wanderers during her three months! This led us to working with the National Plains-wanderer Recovery Team to implement a new monitoring program. Thirty acoustic ‘Song Meters’ were deployed across the reserve and on neighbouring properties in suitable habitat. Sound recordings from each device are analysed by a call-recognition software program.
Since then Bush Heritage Ecologist Graeme Finlayson has also recorded three of the birds while out working out in the field.
- Victorian Dept of Sustainability & Environment – Plains-wanderer
- NSW Office of Environment & Heritage – Plains-wanderer Profile
To lose such an ancient and unique species would be devastating.