||In May and September of 2003 surveys were undertaken in Billiat Conservation Park to increase understanding of the current status of 5 species of threatened mallee birds. The target species were Red-lored Whistler Pachycephala rufogularis, Mallee Emu-wren Stipiturus mallee, Striated Grasswren Amytornis striatus, Mallee Whipbird Psophodes leucogaster leucogaster and Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata. The aim is to understand the distribution and abundance of these birds and to secure local populations of threatened mallee birds in Billiatt Conservation Park, particularly through effective management of wildfire.
A large proportion of the eastern section of Billiatt was searched for these species with 216.5km of broad search transects and 62.5 km of strip transects surveyed. These surveys provided a good insight into the distribution and abundance of these birds in this part of the park with a total of 198 observations recorded. In conclusion Billiatt is extremely important, and this survey indicates that it may support the highest density of Red-lored Whistlers, and possibly also Striated Grasswrens, in the SA Murray-Mallee. Fortunately the sub-populations of these two species appear to be secure. The status of Mallee Emu-wrens and Mallee Whipbirds is not so good, and whilst additional surveys are required, the viability of both species is currently questionable. This work also highlights the fact that the relatively large size of habitat patches like Billiatt can provide us with a false sense of security for the fauna populations that occur there. This habitat is still isolated, and exchange of individuals to and from outside the patch is highly improbable for species such as Emu-wrens or Whipbirds. Given the apparent effect of one large fire on these species, their long-term survival within the park will require active management of the habitat at least.