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19 June 2020
NatureTrackers are heading out all across Tasmania this weekend on Where? Where? Wedgie! to monitor population changes in raptors. This is a long term study, to answer the question - are individuals and industries doing enough of the right things to enable our threatened raptor populations to recover and flourish?
You’ll know that there’s plenty of extra value in getting involved too - a day out exploring a patch of Tasmania that you’ve never quite looked at in this way, or re-visiting it to see how it’s changed over the past year; time in nature getting away from everyday stresses; an opportunity to learn or improve skills, and share knowledge with others, young and old.
And there's more! NatureTrackers can also make some immediate differences to the prospects of our threatened species.
During his May surveys in the Derwent Valley, NatureTracker Michael Dempsey had some great conversations about eagles with local landowners, including Tim and Jane Parsons of Curringa Farm. They take great pleasure in watching the wedge-tailed eages around their farm - which Michael was also able to see and record. To them, when the top of the food chain is present, a harmonious balance exists right through the whole property.
During their chat, Tim sadly mentioned that he’d recently noticed the carcass of an electrocuted eagle on the property. After Michael had a quick consultation with NatureTrackers coordinator Clare on the hotline, they were able to do a number of things to make the best of this unfortunate event.
Michael brought the carcass to TMAG’s Collections & Research facility at Rosny. This will be used in a number of ways - including for James Pay’s study of the impacts of rodenticide and lead poisoning on our raptors. These toxins may increase the likelihood of birds colliding with infrastructure - a common cause of death for wedge-tailed eagles.
Tim reported details of the event to TasNetworks - including location of the eagle, the nearest electrical pole number, and photographs of the site. TasNetworks have now visited the site, established that the eagle was electrocuted by a ‘mid-span’ encounter (usually where the wings short-circuit between two lines) and have put high visibility ‘flappers’ over 250 m of line in the area.
More generally, many of our squares have been minimally surveyed for nature, at least in recent times. Where? Where? Wedgie! is a great opportunity to get information from these lesser-understood areas, and potentially to monitor multiple species across Tasmania over the years. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to get remote cameras and bioacoustic recorders all over Tasmania too.
In the mean time, here’s a list of some additional ways that you can record birds and other species for research, both on the day and all year round, through the iNaturalist app, Birdata and others options.
If during your survey - or at any other time - you find threatened raptors that might have been electrocouted, you can call the TasNetworks fault line (132 004). Several specialist wildlife parks can advise and assist with injured birds - the Raptor Refuge in Kettering - 1800 727 867; Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton - 0447 264 625, Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary at Mole Creek - 03 6363 6162 and Raptor Care North West - 0418 369 967.