Autumn updates for Eastern Barred Bandicoots at Woodlands Historic Park
Weather conditions have made life extremely tough for all wildlife at Woodlands historic park.
It was the driest ever start to the year since weather records have been kept in the regions of Melbourne. The radar used for our weather data is Tullamarine and in January, February, March and April only 35mm of rain had fallen across
the four months. Average monthly rainfall is around 50-60mm. Add to this extreme lack of rainfall the long hot summer weather the grasslands have suffered their biggest hit and dieback since the drought in the years of the 2000’s.
But there has been some light at the end of the tunnel. In The current month of May we have already had 59mm of rain and there is a forecast of still another week of rain to come. For months there I’d forgotten what the wet stuff looked
like and no doubt the animals and plants did as well.
So, what does this mean? It means that it will take a few months at least until we start to see some good grassland growth. As this type of environment grows well in warm conditions while the soil is warmer. The grass will still grow
during the cooler months but a little slower. The fantastic news is that everything has recovered and is green again so it’s all there.
Due to this our bandicoot numbers are still lower as they wait for the habitat to return. Animals that have been monitored are still in good condition so it’s just a waiting game for the habitat to return and breeding will recommence.
As the grass dies back so do the invertebrate insects, grubs, worms etc that live in them as well. So, it’s a double hit for the bandicoots with no grass to nest in and less food to eat.
So, it’s a waiting game now. However, we will try to speed up the process by planting more grasses and do extensive weed control to speed up the recovery.
One animal that doesn’t mind the dry weather is the echidna. There is a video of one happily roaming the woodlands looking for ants to eat, very cute!
So, let’s hope this rain continues and the grass grows, and insects come back in bigger numbers. There are a few photos of a location showing how green it was at the start of January and how dry it had got at the start of May.
Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.
Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer