Last year, the Gooniyandi Rangers, Kimberley Land Council Ecologist Marlee Hutton and EK staff were in Bawoorrooga with Traditional Owner and cultural advisor Claude Carter (Claudie). We worked together to conduct nyarlgoo (bilby) food surveys and collect images from camera traps that were put out previously. We also developed a Fox Baiting Plan to manage these invasive predators, and started looking for an elusive grasswren.
Grasswrens are a mysterious bird species, notoriously hard to see. They like to jump along the ground under spinifex and live with their mates in small territories. They have a very high-pitched call. Grasswrens only occur in areas that are fire protected, which is often girloorloo (limestone country) on Gooniyandi Country. Gooniyandi girloorloo is some of the most hard-to-access and spectacular country in the Kimberley, holding many special places, and secret spaces known only to Gooniyandi mob – the perfect place to find a grasswren!
Marlee Hutton, Claude Carter and Gooniyandi Rangers looking for grasswrens on a cold early morning near Mimbi Caves. Photo: Samuel Younis
We spent the mornings on the hunt for grasswrens in the girloorloo, but back in Bawoorrooga, where we set up camp, nyarlgoo were the main game. Foxes are a serious threat to nyarlgoo and have been Identified in the National Recovery Plan as one of the leading causes of nyarlgoo decline. This is a serious problem to the nyarlgoo in the Kimberley, and more and more ranger groups are reporting having seen foxes near important nyarlgoo sites. Claudie has repeatedly seen foxes hanging around the nyarlgoo burrows near Bawoorrooga and is leading a push to get rid of them because of the threat they pose to nyarlgoo. One of the most effective ways of dealing with foxes is baiting, which has not been done by many ranger groups in the Kimberley to date. Our joint Fox Baiting Plan aims to reduce the harm caused by foxes and potentially pave the way for other groups to conduct similar feral animal control on their Country.
This trip built on previous nyarlgoo work in Bawoorrooga and is the beginning of our feral animal management activities in the area. Even though we didn’t find a grasswren this time, we have high hopes for future attempts! Stay tuned.
This Project was funded by the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program and by Rangelands NRM, through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, with support from the Kimberley Land Council.