The Plains Wanderer is a little ground dwelling bird which has, as its closest relatives, the Seedsnipes of South America, a clue to its Gondwanan origins. It’s very cute and sadly very endangered.
It was found to be doing quite well on some farmland in the vicinity of Terrick Terrick National Park. This was on country that had never been sown to improved pasture and had been grazed by sheep for many, many years. Quite a lot of farmland was purchased and added to the park to conserve the bird. It had been well studied by this stage and the scientific advice to Parks Victoria was to continue a grazing regime.
Parks knew better, the sheep came off.
Dr Mark Antos has been studying the Plains Wanderer in the Park over recent years and has documented their catastrophic decline. They require low herb and grass with about 50% bare ground to do well. Two years of high rainfall and no grazing has turned the environment into something entirely unsuitable. Their plight made the Weekly Times recently which tells us …
… no Plains Wanderers had been seen as part of bi-monthly surveys since March 2011.
Meanwhile, it is my understanding that another researcher, working on private land, has continued to find the little buggers on land that is being grazed. In other words they’re better off outside the park than they are on land purchased with public money for their conservation.
Today, though, some good news. In the survey conducted this weekend one Wanderer was caught and banded. One hopes it signals the beginning of a recovery.