More than 700 community members came together for the Wetlands Weekender Festival to celebrate 30 years of international Ramsar Convention protection for the Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands (Ramsar 482), as well as World Migratory Bird Day, celebrated on 10 October each year to bring attention to ‘the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural movements of migratory birds and that are essential for their survival and well-being.’
Highlights of the packed weekend included an Estuary Cruise and Wetland Walk, a movie night and a community festival including a community clean-up, art competition and dog’s breakfast event on the Coodanup Foreshore.
Participants of the Estuary Cruise and Wetland Walk heard commentary about the wetlands and critically endangered migratory bird species from specialist guides Dr Vicki Stokes from Birdlife WA, and PHCC’s own Dr Steve Fisher. Tour-participants were fortunate enough to spot migratory birds like the Eastern Curlew and the Curlew Sandpiper, as well as an osprey catching its next meal of sea mullet from the estuary. A walking tour of Creery Wetlands with Sarah Way from local ecotourism business Ways to Nature gave another view of the importance of the wetland environment and actions being taken to protect and restore them. On the return journey Noongar community leader and story teller George Walley from Mandjoogoordap Dreaming shared his insights through songs, stories and language.
The festival included a movie night at Reading Cinemas with the film ‘Storm Boy’, where a ceremonial 30th anniversary cake for Ramsar site 482 was cut by City of Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams. Attendees also heard presentations from Steve about the Ramsar wetlands and from Sharon-the-Red-necked-stint-Meredith about migratory shorebirds.
The celebrations continued on Sunday with perfect weather for the Wonders of Our Wetlands festival on the Coodanup foreshore. Along with live music, food trucks and markets, Peel Bright Minds, Mandurah Environment and Heritage Group, Bindjareb Middars cultural dancers, Cockburn Wetlands Centre and BirdLife Australia provided educational activities for curious minds of all ages. City of Mandurah Rangers and BirdLife Australia staff and volunteers educated dog owners about ways they can protect vulnerable shorebirds from disturbance as part of a ‘Dog’s Breakfast’ event.
The annual ‘Pave the Way’ clean-up was also part of the celebrations, helping to make sure that the area is as litter-free as possible for the migratory birds arriving from the northern hemisphere to feed over the summer. This year 82 volunteers collected 76 kilograms of waste. Participants performed an audit of their findings for inclusion into the Australian Marine Debris Database with the help of local community group Coastal Waste Warriors.
This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.