Birds Australia’s (BirdLife Partner) Threatened Bird Network has announced that it’s time once again to start looking for one of Australia’s most rare and cryptic wetland species; the Endangered Australian Painted Snipe Rostratula australis.
After the spring/summer months of 2009/2010 yielded sightings of only 11 individuals, signs are good for the upcoming season with five birds already recorded at two sites in Queensland!
The onset of heavy winter rains throughout the Murray Darling Basin, the Channel Country and into the interior this winter could prove to produce a bumper breeding season for the Australian Painted Snipe, as it has already been for other opportunistic waders such as Banded and Black-winged Stilts. The rain events of this winter will however, allow the birds to remain dispersed, resulting in potentially lower detectability to Australian Painted Snipe surveyors. For this reason the Australian Painted Snipe Recovery project encourages wetland birders from across the nation (especially in the under-represented north) to be ever vigilant as APS have been found in all types of habitat from vast lagoons to storm water drains.
Australia wide simultaneous surveying for Australian Painted Snipe will occur on the weekends of October 16 and January 15 in an attempt to improve estimates on the population, now thought to stand at less then 1,500 individuals. Incidental surveys outside these dates (including those where no Australian Painted Snipe are seen) are also much appreciated in an attempt to unravel the many ecological questions still surrounding this enigmatic bird.
For more information on the Australian Painted Snipe and tips on how and where to survey for them, please click here.