|A new frog that Burnt Creek and Horsham locals discovered is thriving thanks to environmental water and timely rain events.
The Peron’s Tree Frog, also known as the Maniacal Cackle Frog due to its distinctive call, was discovered in 2013 living and breeding happily in Burnt Creek. The frog has spread its reach all the way to Horsham, where Burnt Creek flows into the Wimmera River.
Thanks to the efforts of keen-eared locals Russell Peucker and Kevin and Jenny Bolwell, the frog is now listed as the fourteenth frog of the region in a reprint of Wimmera CMA’s popular Glovebox Guide to Wimmera Frogs... Rivers, Creeks & Wetlands. The guide has an accompanying CD of frog sounds. Wimmera CMA will launch the new guides in August.
Pictured above: Wimmera CMA’s Greg Fletcher, left, and Russell Peucker look through advance copies of the new Wimmera frog guides, which will be launched in August. Photo by Kathryn Walker, Wimmera CMA.
Before their sighting, the only other report of the frog in the Wimmera was in 2009, when researchers recorded its call at Laharum on the fringe of the Grampians National Park. Current distribution maps have the species living in lowland areas north and east of the Wimmera.
Russell Peucker, whose family has lived alongside Burnt Creek for more than 100 years, made the discovery.
“I’ve been listening to frogs by the creek all my life. You get used to the different sounds like the Pobblebonk, ‘knee deeps’ and the Growling Grass Frog. But when we got an environmental water release into Burnt Creek I heard a sound I’d never heard before. After a bit of research on the computer, I realised it was a Peron’s Tree Frog.”
Pictured above: The new Wimmera frog guide will include the Peron’s Tree Frog, which Russell discovered in 2013 living and breeding in Burnt Creek. Photo by Tim Mintern.
Reading that the frog was not known to live in the area, Russell spoke to friends Kevin and Jenny Bolwell who borrowed Wimmera CMA’s frog monitoring audio equipment. During night-time roams up and down the creek, they tracked the frogs all the way to their home in Stockton Drive, Horsham. Their recordings confirmed that the Peron’s Tree Frog has well and truly made the Wimmera its home.
Wimmera CMA chief executive David Brennan says thanks to the observations and work of people like Jenny, Kevin, Russell the CMA now knows the population has expanded right along the Burnt Creek system. Others have also heard their distinctive call around the catchment, particularly after big summer storms.
Water for the environment
Russell is a long-time advocate for environmental water and says the creek is enjoying the benefits of an ongoing supply.
“The creek is not flowing at the moment but it’s looking quite good. It’s had a little trickle down it for months which has been outstanding. The vegetation has lifted.”
Russell says environmental water has completely changed the landscape.
“Before we had environmental water and when it was dry for so long, the trees were like skeletons. Now, there’s quite a bit of regeneration that we haven’t seen for years and years and they’ve created a thick canopy, it’s good to see. The water means we’re also seeing the return of birds, like honeyeaters and water birds.”
Stories link to the creek
In the book We Rang the Bell at Dingley Dell, commemorating the Burnt Creek State School that opened in 1872, most of the stories link to the creekside shenanigans that happened on the way to and from school.
“Most kids trekked along the creek and what they remember growing up in this area all links to the creek - the wildflowers, the birds and the animals. It’s so important to have environmental water for the birds and critters. We’ve just got to keep as much of this alive as we can.”
Environmental water releases in Burnt Creek are part of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s Seasonal Watering Plan, which aims to improve river and wetland health across the state.
WIMMERA WINTER FLOWS
Planned environmental water releases are dependent on rainfall. For example, if the region experiences significant rainfall events, Wimmera CMA will reduce or stop planned releases as required.
Click here to view the Winter Environmental Water Release Update
Periodic low flows & freshes
Lower Mt William Creek
Ongoing low flows & freshes
Lower MacKenzie River
Wetlands – timing to be confirmed
Carapugna – Watchem/Warmur
Challambra Swamp – Warracknabeal (Private land – no access)
Crow Swamp - Tarranyurk
Sawpit Swamp - Murtoa
Tarkedia – Sheep Hills
Wal Wal Swamp – Wal Wal