Please scroll down for the latest updates. For more information on the Twitchathon please visit https://birdlifetwitchathon.org.au
The Australasian Bittern is a globally endangered waterbird with an estimated total population of just 1000-2500 mature individuals. The Bitterns in Rice Project was established in 2012 as an inclusive, grassroots initiative with the broad aims to raise awareness of the species, learn about its use of rice fields and identify what rice growers can do to support bittern conservation. The project is uniting farmers and conservationists and brings together the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Birdlife Australia, Riverina Local Land Services and various other organisations. Population monitoring has determined that the Riverina's rice fields support the global stronghold for the species, attracting 500-1000 bitterns in most years. The Twitchathon funds will be used to help identify the best actions that rice farmers can take to improve breeding success and boost the 'bittern yield'.
The chicks begin leaving the nest within two weeks but it's still another 5-6 weeks before they fledge. They become almost impossible to relocate within the crop and hinder efforts to monitor breeding success. Plans are underway to trial the use of a drone equipped with a thermal camera. Identifying the rice crops and their particular management regimes that do produce fully fledged young is crucial. The monitoring will also determine the potential usefulness of incorporating adjacent habitat refuges to complement rice fields and targeted feral cat and fox control.
For more information, visit https://www.bitternsinrice.com.au/