Robbie likes what he’s found; and is connecting wetlands / people

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Robbie seems pleased with what’s he’s found on the South Australian coast, 557 kilometres from the rice crops of Coleambally. And he’s already connecting wetlands and people through his journey.

Of all the places Robbie could go, he’s chosen the recently restored Pick Swamp, which forms part of the internationally recognised Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands Ramsar Site. The folks in South Australia are chuffed. It’s a great endorsement of their conservation efforts, and highlights the value of the area to endangered species and the importance of a network of wetlands, even when they’re far apart. Some people have joked that South Australia and rice don’t normally go together, but Robbie isn’t privy to water politics and sees no boundaries, just one big connected landscape with different wetlands to sustain him.

He’s moving around a bit, checking out the local area. For a moment there, we were worried he’d drowned in the ocean, with some low accuracy transmissions putting him several kilometres out to sea during high winds. But all is well. We suspect he’s finding lots of tasty morsels to satisfy his hunger after such a big trip. Nearby, and back across the border into Victoria, the Nature Glenelg Trust is doing some brilliant wetland restoration work on the Long Swamp, so he may discover some good habitat there too.

These are amazing initial insights into where the rice-breeding Australasian Bittern population goes after harvest and spends the non-breeding season, particularly for young birds like Robbie that the rice yields. These Bunyip Bird secrets have only been revealed because of the generous crowdfunding for Tracking Bunyip Birds. With any luck, we’ll get another bittern away with a satellite transmitter over the coming days. Stay tuned …

Pick Swamp June 2012 - Image Credit Mark Bachmann

Pick Swamp, South Australia: Robbie likes what he’s found next to the sea. (Photo by Mark Bachmann)

1 COMMENT

  1. […] Obviously this journey is a remarkable story in itself – discovering for the first time the scale over which these birds are utilising the landscape. But there is a sub-text as well, and that is the story of the value of wetland restoration.For those of you that don’t know, Pick Swamp was drained and developed from the 1970s and only a decade ago was still a working cattle grazing property. But after being purchased by the South Australian Government in 2005 for its restoration potential, and then progressively restored from 2007, the area has been transformed back into a diverse and functioning wetland ecosystem. Having inadvertently flushed a few bitterns out of dense wetland vegetation on site over the years myself, isn’t it amazing to think that, like Robbie, these birds may have been born and bred in the rice crops of the Riverina? These early results show just how much we have to learn about the concept of landscape connectivity for wetlands, and provide great endorsement for the value of wetland restoration.So what can you do?Well, if you are interested in returning water to your drained swamp in the South East of SA or western Victoria, Nature Glenelg Trust’s Wetland Restoration Program on Private Land may be able to help. For more information, please contact Mark Bachmann (0421 97 8181) or Lachlan Farrington (0401 208 717).You can also keep up with the latest on Robbie’s journey by checking the latest news on the Bitterns in Rice website. […]

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