Brolga Numbers Declining

October 22, 1999 The Rural News 

Landholders from both the New South Wales and Victorian sides of the Murray River met at the Savernake hall recently to hear from renowned birdwatcher, Graham Pizzy. Mr Pizzy spoke of his experience and knowledge of brolgas, saying brolga numbers arc in decline throughout the region.

He said sightings of large congregations of brolgas on once favoured swamps are no longer guaranteed. "Brolgas feed on shallow wetlands and may also be seen on farm dams and grassland areas," Mr Pizzy said. "They rely on shallow wetlands on which they build nesting mounds constructed of sticks and grasses." "These areas are preferred during the breeding period as they are largely protected from predators, such as the introduced fox."

A major influence on the lack of breeding success of the brolga has been changes in natural flooding patterns on these wetlands. Since the European occupation of these landscapes flooding events have been changed from a winter-spring cycle to what is now primarily a summer flooding cycle", said Paul Lloyd, project officer with the New South Wales Murray Wetlands Working Group.

"Changes to wetland areas have not only significantly altered the suitability of wetlands as breeding areas for but has also altered the balance of wetland plant species."

Landowners are being encouraged to manage their wetland areas by maintaining shallow wetlands during the winter to spring breeding period to ensure maximum plant growth, and by excluding stock while the wetlands are wet.

Peter O'Shannassy from the Rural Lands Protection Board emphasised the need for regular fox control and said now was the time to do it.

"Vixens either arc pregnant or have litters. During this time they are more susceptible to bait taking, particularly with the need to provide for a coming litter." Landholders are being offered a wide range of services including wetland assessment, fencing and vegetation incentives and fox baiting controls.