• Loddon Herald

Wander's big comeback

TERRICK Terrick National Park is leading the population rebound for the endangered Plains-wanderer bird.

La Trobe University PhD Dan Nugent said more Plains-wanderers had been recorded during the recent survey than at any time since monitoring began in 2010. Terrick Terrick was one of two survey sites in Mr Nugent’s research..

“We detected 60 adults and 41 chicks. This is more than double the previous best result in 2018 when 30 adults and 17 chicks were detected,” Mr Nugent said.

“A further encouraging sign was that 85 per cent of monitoring sites supported Plains-wanderers – the highest percentage of sites since surveys began 12 years ago.”

The survey, released this week, was undertaken by La Trobe University in partnership with North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of a report for Department of Environment Land and Water and Planning.

Since 2010, ecologists have monitored Plains-wanderer num-bers in native grasslands across private and public land on the northern plains of Victoria.

NCCMA project manager Laura Chant said that as well as improvement in technology and survey methods over the years, the record numbers were likely the result of both human and non-human intervention.

“The La Nina climate cycle facilitated a wide-spread and prolonged breeding event, which is likely to have boosted their numbers,” Ms Chant said.

“Also, it’s highly likely the habitat management and protection measures we, and several partner organisations, have taken over many years to protect this incredible bird are proving to be highly effective – including conservation covenants and strategic grazing of conservation reserves.”

DELWP’s Dr Aaron Grinter, said monitoring the elusive bird was a challenge.

“Plains-wanderers are highly cryptic; they are almost never seen during the day when most active because of their excellent camouflage and wariness of predators, making detectability a major challenge for researchers,” said Dr Grinter.

Mr Nugent said although the survey results were welcomed by conservationists, there remained significant concerns for the future of Plains-wanderers.

“In Victoria, habitat loss driven by conversion of native grasslands to croplands is a major threat,” he said.

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