Conservation actions for Australasian Bittern in southern and eastern Victoria

The following abstract is part of the Bringing Back the Bunyip Bird Australasian Bittern Conservation Summit (Leeton, 1-4 Feb, 2022).

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Andrew Silcocks Bittern summit

Andrew Silcocks, BirdLife Australia,

Southern and eastern Victoria is an important area for wintering and breeding. Around Melbourne, breeding is rare as most wetlands are relatively small (<10ha) and exposed to human disturbance, but it is an important wintering area. An exception is Tootgarook Swamp on the Mornington Peninsula, which in favourable years has several booming birds. The presence of bitterns and significant plant communities has proved crucial in preventing housing and road development through the wetland.

Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria can be an important site. In wet years extensive suitable habitat exists and numerous birds move in. Monitoring has been ongoing for several years, including habitat restoration and extensive community liaison to inform landowners to protect and enhance their wetlands.

Several management techniques for the control of invasive tall, dense wetland plants, such as Phragmites and Cumbungi, have been trialled at Melbourne Water managed sites. These include water level control, mowing and herbicide treatment.

The monitoring of booming birds is relatively straight forward and can be undertaken by dusk / dawn listening surveys or acoustic monitoring devices. BirdLife Australia are looking to increase community awareness with the production of a short film and engagement in survey work.

At a number of accessible wetlands across Melbourne, monthly monitoring sites have been set up. The surveys follow a fixed route which means the data are comparable. We are looking to get more sites surveyed in this way across the species range.

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