A Great ‘Tern Out’ at Lancelin Island

The WA Seabird Conservation Network (WASCN) team has been busy undertaking annual ‘dark’ tern monitoring on Lancelin Island! One group successfully banded Brown (Common) Noddy nestlings, and another group re-captured adult Sooty Terns from a long-term colony bordering the Noddies.

In 1994, when systematic monitoring commenced there were just 16 pairs of Noddies. Today, whilst we are still arriving at an estimate of colony size based on occupied vegetation and density measures, there are at least 3,500 pairs!

The Sooty Tern colony of around 50 pairs has been under the same patch of Nitre Bush since it started in 1999. Such local area fidelity has not before been demonstrated in Sooty Terns, and appears to be associated with the nesting Brown Noddies. WASCN recaptured 13 Sooty Terns under that Nitre Bush at intervals of between 1 and 12 years, demonstrating that the same individuals are involved.

Finally, on the Lancelin Island dark terns story; in 1997, Bridled Terns were banded along the selected pathway for the cross-island walkway, constructed in 1998, to monitor nest territory displacement. One (possibly two) of those breeding adults were seen on the walkway, approximately 26 years later! How’s that for longevity and site fidelity?

For further information on the WA Seabird Conservation Network, email waseabirds@iinet.net.au or check our their Facebook page here!

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