• Written by Dave Setchell. Reproduced with

Malleefowl Grid Monitoring Update SAMDB

27 grids were monitored this season (586 mounds) on DEWNR reserves, private properties and Commonwealth land. This included 7 grids monitored by BirdLife Australia volunteers on Gluepot Reserve, 4 grids monitored by Australian Landscape Trust (ALT) volunteers on Taylorville Station and 3 grids monitored by ALT staff on Calperum Station. 40 active mounds were recorded, down from 44 last season, although an extra 96 mounds (including 5 year mounds) were checked last season. Only 3 active mounds were recorded north of the Murray River (2 on Calperum Station and 1 on Gluepot Reserve) which is the same total as last season.

A total of 538 hours of volunteer time was contributed to the monitoring program and I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to all the individuals and groups involved. We welcomed Michelle McMahon on board this season as a new volunteer.

The weather was variable across the region in 2016. Rain in May made up for a dry start to autumn, with average to above average rain during winter raising hopes for a productive season. Rainfall in spring was generally above average but temperatures were below average. Despite this, there was still evidence that some areas missed out on the winter and spring rains. There was also a lot of evidence of mounds being prepared but then being abandoned prior to egg laying.

The Bakara, Karte and Gluepot 8 grids were the only grids to record an increase in active mounds this season. It was the best result for Bakara since 1998 and the best result ever recorded for Karte (which has been monitored annually since 2001). On the other hand, 6 grids (Shorts, Ferries MacDonald, Danggali 2, Bandon, Ettrick and Murray Bridge Army Range) recorded a decrease in active mounds. Peebinga continued its recent strong run of breeding activity, with 13 active mounds again this season. Overall the results were very variable, although I suspect the cool wet spring had a negative influence on breeding activity on some grids, whereas some northern grids seemed to have missed out on the winter and spring rains.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Henry Short for his long term involvement with the monitoring program. The Shorts grid, which is in a heritage agreement on Henry’s property was one of the first monitoring grids established in SA and has been regularly monitored since 1989. More recently, Henry has hosted the Scientific Expedition Group, who monitor the Shorts grid and the nearby Bakara grid. Henry recently sold his property but he made sure that the malleefowl baton was passed on to the new owner, who is happy to continue to be involved with the monitoring program. All the very best wishes Henry but visiting your property won’t be quite the same again – I hope you don’t miss it too much!

A summary report will be sent to all the volunteers, landholders and stakeholders involved by the time this goes to print.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with monitoring, particularly with some of the more remote grids in the region. If you are interested please contact: Dave Setchell, SAMDB malleefowl monitoring program coordinator, Mallee Eco Services Phone: 0428 873 090 dhsetchell@gmail.com

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