Robbie the Bittern – helping connect farming & nature conservation

He was feisty. He was young. Just an egg in a rice crop three or four months ago, he was about to become famous. Robbie: the first ever endangered Australasian bittern to be satellite tracked.

Quick take:

  • Each year, approximately 25–30% of the world’s Australasian bittern population comes to the Riverina rice fields.
  • In April 2015, a young bittern called Robbie became the first of his kind to be fitted with a satellite tracking device. Just before rice harvest, Robbie took off and traveled almost 600 km, finally settling in wetlands near the coast of south west Victoria.
  • It’s quite incredible that rice crops can yield ten or so tonnes per hectare as well as future generations of one of the world’s rarest, most threatened waterbirds. 
  • 2015–16 will see continued work in Riverina rice fields to gain more understanding of bitterns’ preference for rice sowing method and water management; as well as understanding likely prey of these rare birds.

Matt Herring, Bitterns in Rice Project

IREC Farmers’ Newsletter – Large Area No. 193: Spring 2015. Read the full newsletter here.