Most growers over the years have heard the eerie booming sound of the Australasian Bittern in their rice crops and many have noticed the birds popping their heads out of early crops to check for danger.
But did you know the species is endangered? It is estimated that there may be as few as 1000 birds remaining.
Recent research has identified that 500-1000 visit the Riverina and use rice crops over the summer months for breeding.
The Growing Bittern Friendly Rice Incentive, part of the Boosting the Bunyip Bird Yield Project, has been offered for the first time in 2019/2020 and provides an opportunity for growers to be acknowledged for their role in providing habitat for the Bittern.
In recent weeks project ecologist Matt Herring and Project Manager Anna Wilson (Riverina Local Land Services) were able to catch up with a number of growers who had indicated that they would like to be involved in the project As a result five growers will be growing Bittern Friendly Rice this season with 123 hectares included in the project.
The idea is to provide the best chance for successful breeding and fledging of chicks to take place with a dollar per hectare rate offered to growers dependent upon the number of activities being undertaken and the date permanent water is achieved. Activities included are:
Early permanent water: Early permanent water is important as it provides the chicks the opportunity to full fledge prior to harvest.
- Fox control: Fox control activities assist in protecting protect eggs and young birds from predation.
- Weedy banks: Weedy banks provide cover for young birds and act as a deterrent to foxes using them
- Bittern nesting pads: Bittern nesting pads are areas of more dense rice that is usually a little taller. It is thought that these areas are preferred by Bitterns for nesting.
Adjoining habitat areas: Adjoining habitat areas such as channels with cumbungi provide a refuge for young birds after harvest
This project is supported by Riverina Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
For further information please contact Anna Wilson on 0248 964 785 or email [email protected].
IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Matt Herring.