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10 June 2020
Where? Where? Wedgie! involves a ’standardised’ survey, where we all go out and do the same thing at the same time each year, and see how the numbers of our observations change. With clever maths - covering variations in things like numbers of surveys, and environmental conditions and field of view at each survey site - we can compare the results over the years to get an indication of how the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle population is faring. Is it declining, increasing or stable? With the help of other research to interpret our results, we hope also in future to estimate population size. And if enough surveys are done, we may be able to do this for populations of other surveyed species too.
However, a common inspiration to join in on Where? Where? Wedgie! are people’s own ‘incidental’ sightings (sightings of birds whenever you happen to notice them), which they’d also like to share. Many NatureTrackers have developed a fantastic knowledge and familiarity with wedge-tailed eagles and other raptors from observations of individuals and families of these birds on their own properties.
Incidental sightings often vary greatly with people’s interest over the months and years, so it can be difficult to use them for science. For species only found in small patches, it can be very useful to know of new patches, or when the species was last seen in a patch. Eagles, on the other hand, can be seen virtually anywhere in Tasmania. To monitor their population trends, we need consistent surveys from all across Tasmania. However, we may be able to use incidental observations on the Where? Where? Wedgie! survey dates to help interpret the survey data. Additionally, reports from the same places year after year may - if sufficiently numerous, regular and consistent - be used to pick up local changes. Finally, there may well be future uses of your observations that no one’s even yet thought of!
Seen a raptor or white cockatoo anywhere in Tasmania, but not during the standard 10-minute surveys? There are options to report these as part of Where? Where? Wedgie!
You can report any incidental observations of plants and animals via iNaturalist. This is a very rewarding, incredibly powerful app and website. If you have locations and photographs from which others can confirm identifications, it's a great way to share information widely, as Tasmanian, Australian and international databases use confirmed iNaturalist data. Even without photos - as long as you have a location, your data has the potential to be of use. These tutorials can help you with any questions.
On iNaturalist, to share your raptor and white cockatoo observations with Where? Where? Wedgie!, enter ‘Where? Where? Wedgie!’ into the ‘Project’ box - this will automatically bring up a small number of extra questions. NatureTrackers also have a Claws on the Line project on iNaturalist for observations of Tasmanian burrowing crayfish or their burrows.
(If you have photos and videos you’re happy to share, they can also be a wonderful inspiration to future NatureTrackers and also help people learn to identify species. Please email them with details of how you are willing for them to be used, &/or share them on NatureTrackers' and other social media pages.
Important! Do not approach a nest during the breeding season! A breeding eagle in particular may fly from its nest if you come even within hundreds of metres of it (however well-meaning you are!). Find out more about this, as well as how to recognise eagle nests, on the Threatened Species Link.
As long as you understand these issues, it is extremely helpful to report the location of a nest to the Natural Values Atlas . Standard environmental assessments (e.g. prior to development, forestry or other potentially disturbing human activities) include a check of information on this publicly available database. Nests are legally protected under Tasmania's Nature Conservation Act.
Email your information to the Natural Values Atlas (email@example.com). You'll need to provide the date of your observation, precise details of the nest location, your name, any information on which species has used the nest, and preferably a photograph of the nest.