10 December 2015…Birders and decision makers from Perth metro, Bunbury and around the Peel-Yalgorup region gathered in Mandurah recently for a workshop and study tour of one of the region’s most significant resident shorebirds. In 2011, the Australian Fairy Tern was classified as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The species is heavily impacted by human activities on the coast and, according to workshop co-ordinator Dr Nic Dunlop of the Conservation Council of WA, without intervention the Fairy Tern will eventually cease to be a breeding species in the Peel.

“As a potential flagship species, the Fairy Tern is an indicator of how well we manage the coast. Land development, rising sea levels, human disturbance, introduced predators and water quality all affect these birds. We simply need to get ahead of the game and find a way of accommodating them before it is too late,” said Dr Dunlop.
A number of workshops and study trips are being held on the South West coast this summer in places where Fairy Terns disperse to breed in W.A.’s summer months.

“The South West Fairy Tern Project workshops will develop localised strategies for significant nesting sites and establish a network of trained conservation volunteers to monitor the birds. Citizen science involving local communities is a very important aspect of the project. By understanding them, we can help them,” said Dr Dunlop.

The Fairy Tern Conservation Project is supported by State NRM. The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) facilitated the sub-regional workshop held in early December in Mandurah.

PHCC project manager Thelma Crook said there were indications that disturbance and coastal development have forced the breeding colonies onto low-lying islands and beaches where they are especially vulnerable.

“The Fairy Tern is a small bird weighing about 50gms with a distinctive black cap, yellow-bill and white forked tail. They often nest on shorelines, island beaches, sand spits, and dredge spoil – places where human impacts and predation by foxes and cats occurs. People need to be bird-aware and keep their dogs on a leash in these areas,” said Thelma Crook.

This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

If you are keen to be involved in the project or if you have sightings of Fairy Tern, please contact the South West Fairy Tern Project Coordinator fairytern@ccwa.org.au.

Media Contact: Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au , (08) 6369 8800

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