With land clearance and introduction of domestic cattle and sheep many of the indigenous species have been displaced to isolated pockets of remnant vegetation in the area. Creeks are naturally important feeding points for wildlife including birds, mammals, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
Laratinga Wetland and Reserve has become an important habitat for a range of resident, migratory and nomadic bird species. Approximately 150 bird species have been recorded from the site, based on data from Birds SA (Birdpedia 2011), local bird watchers (Snell & Williams 2011) and the Biological Database of SA (DENR 2011). This includes nine exotic bird species. There are 14 native species recorded by Snell and Williams (2011) from Laratinga that are not reflected in the Biological Database of SA (DENR 2011). An additional 35 native bird species have recent (post 1985) records within 10km of Laratinga Wetland (DENR 2011).
Between 30 and 61 bird species can typically be seen at any one time at Laratinga (Snell and Williams 2011), with the most common species observed being the Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Eurasian Coot, Rock Dove, Masked Lapwig, Galah, Crimson Rosella, Magpie-lark, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen and various species of Crake.
A number of birds recorded from Laratinga are threatened at a State of regional level. Migratory and nomadic species are only present at Laratinga at certain times of the year and their use of the site may depend on resource and water availability elsewhere. Migratory birds such as the Latham's Snipe have been spotted in the later part of the year; they return to Japan around February and March the following year (Snell and Williams 2011).
Regular monitoring of birds at Laratinga Wetland has been undertaken by local birdwatchers (Snell & Williams) and Birds SA since 1999. Data from the various field trips over the past 11 years have been stored in an online database "Birdpedia" for bird watching across Australia. Records of species observed, the number of birds and breeding activity are accessible to interested members of the public.
Interpretive signs have been installed around the Laratinga Wetlands walking trails. Each sign along the trail indicates a type of bird species that you could spot at that location.
Fish of Mt Barker Creek
There are no native fish in the wetland itself, although it is believed that the rivers and streams of the Adelaide Hills were not so long ago teaming with native fish including gudgeons, galaxiids, perch, bream, blackfish and gobys. A total of 25 native and 8 exotic freshwater fish species are found in the Mount Lofty Ranges although some of these spend part of their life cycle in marine waters (Carter and Pearce unpublished).
Of the 25 native fish species, one, the Purple-spotted Gudgeon (Mogurda adspersa) is now extinct in the Mount Lofty Ranges although breeding programs are in place to reintroduce it from interstate populations. Of the remaining 24 species, three are considered threatened.
Ten of the species are considered marginal, meaning that they were in general more abundant and diverse in watercourses of the Mount Lofty Ranges historically, but are now marginal (their habitat has been degraded and their distribution is now restricted although translocation of some species is extending their range) (Carter and Pearce, unpublished).
Only two fish species (one exotic) were found during surveys in 2005 and 2007 of the Mt Barker Creek in the vicinity of the Laratinga Wetland. These are:
• Mountain Galaxias (Galaxias olidus) and
• Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) – introduced/exotic species
Twenty native reptile species have previous records in the Biological Database of SA within 10 km of the Laratinga Wetland site. Recent (post 1985) records exist for 17 of these species (DENR 2011). Two of these species, the Common Long-necked Tortoise (Chelodina longicollis) and the Brown Snake have been sighted at Laratinga. Other reptile species recorded from the surrounds may occur at Laratinga, and/or Laratinga may provide suitable habitat for some of these species in the future.
Five frog species have been confirmed at Laratinga Wetland:
• Common Froglet (Crinia signifera)
• Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerili)
• Spotted Grass Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis)
• Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi) and
• Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii).
There are no mammal records in the Biological Database of SA however sixteen native mammal species have previously been recorded within 10km of the site; recent (post 1985) records exist for ten of these species (DENR 2011).
A survey was undertaken at Laratinga Wetland in March 2011 using spotlights and AnaBat bat detectors. Six common Brushtail Possum, a House Mouse (Mus musculus) and Black Rat (Rattus rattus) were observed. At least eight species of microbat were identified using AnaBat detectors. Four of these species; White-striped Freetail-bat, Southern Forest Bat, Little Forest Bat and Southern Freetail-bat (sp. 4) have no previous records in the BDBSA for the area. Of the eight bat species recorded, the relative activity level was highest (i.e. the most calls recorded) for the Large Forest Bat, Southern Forest Bat and Little Forest Bat. The Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) has also been noted at the Laratinga site (Williams, 2012).
Fauna Reference List:
Carter, J. and Pearce, B. (unpublished), Freshwater Fishes of the Mount Lofty Ranges. DEHAA Fact Sheet.
Crawford, C, 1997, Mount Barker Summit Conservation Reserve Management Plan, Prepared for the District Council of Mount Barker, South Australia.
Schmidt, R.1983, Mountain upon the Plain: A history of Mount Barker and its Surroundings, District Council of Mount Barker.