Painted Snipe and Bittern Field Day

Renowned Ecologist Matt Herring shares his knowledge with enthusiastic attendees.

Painted Snipe and Bittern Field Day

Renowned Ecologist Matt Herring shares his knowledge with enthusiastic attendees.

Stronger Together -

WMLIG

The issue

Although known to inhabit rice crops in the local area, the movements of the endangered Australasian Bittern and Australian Painted Snipe are poorly understood. Recent studies around the birds have built awareness around the preferred habit and ecology of the species and encouraged landholders with the knowledge to enhance on farm habitats for significant wildlife as well as report any sightings of the elusive birds. 

The solution

Murrakool Land for Wildlife and the Ricegrowers’ Association Environmental Champions Program partnered together to run wildlife surveys in the Murray Valley. Culminating in a field day on the 20th December. Fifty  community members ventured to a local property ‘Cambria’ in Tullakool to learn about on-farm wetland environments from renowned ecologist Matt Herring. The evening walk was hosted by the Thomas family, who have a long history of natural resource management on their farm. Upon arrival attendees were greeted with beautiful views of a number of different wildlife habitats. Children and adults alike puddled in the wetland to try to spot waterbirds and amphibians hiding in the thick cumbungi and rice.

The impact

After a quick survey of frog species in the wetlands followed by a survey in a nearby rice crop it was determined that the rice crop and surrounding irrigation system contained a high diversity of fauna species. 10 tadpoles were quickly located and shown to attendees including; immature Spotted Marsh Frogs, the Barking Marsh Frog and Plains Froglets. The endangered Southern Bell frog was heard but not sighted. After Matt finished explaining how to identify frog species an endangered Australasian Bittern appeared. The bird took flight treating everyone to a view of this strange specimen. The Australian Painted Snipe remained a mystery, Matt confirming that they are very hard to find. Since the field day however local sightings of Australian Painted Snipe have occurred which extremely encouraging and reinforces the importance of rice and irrigation wetlands in the region.

Key facts

  • Experience has shown that rice provides a great habitat for frogs due to food, shelter and time of flooding.
  • Bitterns are known to use rice crops as a surrogate wetland for breeding and hatching young, however these birds are not always easily found, so a sighting was an exciting experience for all present

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