Cocky comeback

RARE Carnaby’s black cockatoos have returned to Baigup Wetlands.

The Baigup Wetlands Interest Group and Bayswater council have been working to pull out weeds and restore biodiversity at the wetlands’ which straddles Bayswater and Maylands. The area’s suffered from acid-sulphate soils, high salinity levels, invasive weeds and introduced species including domestic dogs bothering the wildlife.

The group’s goal is to provide a habitat for birds, terrestrial and aquatic animals like turtles, skinks, and the famous dancing peacock spider. 

The endangered Carnaby’s cockies were historically recorded in the area but when the council commissioned a wetlands management plan back in 2014, the birds hadn’t been seen there in years. 

Only two anecdotal sightings had been reported, with surveys in 1991 and 2010 coming up empty-handed. 

But a 2018 fauna survey recognised it was on its way back as a potential feeding area.

This week the council reported that cockies had come back, feasting on native plant species which had long since disappeared before revegetation efforts.

Regular wetlands walker John Baas photographed the birds, and tells us “I go to Baigup at least once a week and have been for years”. 

The birds are occasionally heard in tall trees outside the reserve and sometimes fly overhead, but he says “this is the first time I’ve seen them feeding in the reserve… the first time I’ve actually ever seen them using Baigup as habitat”.

The 2018 fauna survey also said the area also has potential to become a habitat for quenda again. The quenda, aka southern brown bandicoot, were also historically seen at Baigup but none were found in that survey, likely due to introduced predators, the habitat becoming fragmented from other bushland, and increased waterlogging. 

Meanwhile the Baigup Wetlands Interest Group’s work carries on, with volunteers invited to come down to work on the reserve this Sunday April 18 at 9am. 

Follow their work at http://www.facebook.com/BaigupWetlands/

by DAVID BELL

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