More than fifty species of shorebirds occur regularly in Australia and about one third of all Australian shorebirds are visitors. These long distance migrants travel from breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere, their return flight being an amazing 20,000km – 30,000 km. Some 40,000 migratory birds, from as far away as Alaska and Asia, have been recorded visiting Noosa during peak migration times in February and early March in years past.
Jill Dening and her team of volunteers have conducted surveys of the local bird population for ten years now. “The data collected over that time is sufficient to reveal some interesting population trends” she says. The team’s work covers all birds that use the Noosa estuary with a particular focus on shorebirds and terns, both migratory and resident. Ms Dening will be guest speaker at Friday Environment Forum on February 19 where she will share the results of her long term study.
“Sadly, most species of shorebirds in the East Asian/Australasian Flyway are suffering astonishing population crashes”, she observes. It is thought that the main problem occurs in the Yellow Sea, which has vast intertidal mudflats, used by migratory birds to fatten up on both their northerly and southerly journeys. Massive land reclamation in that area is causing feeding grounds to contract so that many birds do not complete their journey safely.
Because shorebird roost sites occur near to feeding areas on mudflats, beaches and freshwater wetlands, it is important that the birds remain relatively undisturbed. These astonishing migrants must increase their body weight by approximately seventy percent in order to gain strength to undertake their arduous journey. Thanks to the recommendation of Jill Dening’s team, some Noosa North Shore beach areas are now closed to vehicles and other disturbances. This has resulted in well populated and safe roosting areas.
To hear more about this remarkable ten year study, you are invited to join the audience at Noosa Parks Association’s Environment Centre, 5 Wallace Drive, Noosaville. Coffee is on offer from 10 am and Friday Environment Forum begins at 10.30 am. To enjoy the birds of Wallace Park, meet Valda in the car park at 8.30 am. All welcome.
More at www.noosaparks.org.au
|photo by Shanna Bignell|