Christmas Comes Early for Local Shorebirds

The festive season is nearly upon us (again) and it is time to recharge our batteries by getting out and about in our region’s beautiful natural areas. It is a fair bet that a visit to our fabulous beaches and estuaries will be high on the agenda in the next few weeks.

However, we aren’t the only ones looking for some R ‘n’ R on the coast. Summer brings a mass of trans-migratory wader birds to our shores, many of them critically endangered, seeking to rest and regenerate after their northern hemisphere breeding season, and of course to avoid the northern winter – who could blame them? Summer is also the time that many of our local beach birds nest –  it is hard to miss all the Red-capped Plovers running around at the moment.

Sharing our beach space with these weary travellers is something worth keeping in mind as you venture out and about this summer. Most birds don’t seem to mind people taking a relaxing walk nearby, but cars, motorbikes and unleashed dogs will readily scatter them from their favourite Bed and Breakfast areas. Too many disturbances and the wader Trip Advisor score goes down and birds have to find somewhere much less salubrious, perhaps somewhere that can’t provide them enough food necessary to replenish their stores.

Enter Birdlife Midwest, a regional branch of Birdlife WA. Members of this group have been very active in raising awareness on the need to avoid disturbing migratory waders and nesting beach birds. You will often see them at the beach keeping an eye on flocks of waders as well as presenting displays at community events around the region.

This summer they have an extra tool to help raise awareness in the form of temporary signs. These signs have been generously developed and manufactured by the City of Greater Geraldton with design input from Birdlife Midwest and NACC NRM. These signs can be readily installed using stakes, also supplied by the City, at any location currently being used by birds, with the first ones recently going in at Greenough river mouth.

Birdlife Midwest member Alice Bishop said, “Waders move around a lot depending on where the feeding is best so it is great to have moveable signs. We hope people will take notice of the messages on the signs and keep their distance to prevent disturbance of these weary visitors.”

For more information about this project, please contact Mic Payne, NACC NRM Coastcare Support Officer. To find out about upcoming Birdlife Midwest events over the school holidays, visit their Facebook page here.

Dr. Mic Payne – Coastcare Support Officer

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