Things are ‘terning’ around for this little bird.
Perhaps you haven’t heard much about it, but the Fairy Tern is a small bird which has a wingspan of 44-53cm with a distinctive black cap, yellow-brown bill and white forked tail.
It is currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(EPBC Act) and under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.
To learn more about the species, 15 local people gathered at a Fairy Tern workshop on Sunday at Jurien Bay, to organise a ‘tern around’ before the upcoming breeding season.
Group determining potential night roosting sites in local areas for Fairy Terns- to check them over the next month pic.twitter.com/e0tZRwsMdo
— Pip_Schmucker (@PipSchmucker) October 4, 2015
The workshop, coordinated by Dr Nic Dunlop and supported by NACC and DPaW, aimed to give attendees more information and a greater understanding of the vulnerable species. Workshop participants discussed important sites for Fairy Tern along the coast from Kalbarri to Guilderton, and made plans to check potential night roosts over the coming new moon, and next month.
What does this mean?
This will help them learn about the bird’s behaviour, development stages and numbers to predict habits prior to changes occurring, in preparation for upcoming breeding events. Participants also developed a way forward to support the South West Fairy Tern Project for the NAR. The project aims to develop local Fairy Tern Conservation strategies, which requires understanding of population structure; and have local people on-ground, keeping an eye out on predictive information prior to breeding, ready to assist with site management options when colonies do breed to give them the best chance of success.
Fairy Terns are an iconic indicator for coastal sustainability and can provide valuable information on the state of coastal erosion, fisheries and visitor management to name a few.
They often choose breeding habitat that is not ideal for successful breeding events, and can be exposed to human impacts and predation. They nest on or near shorelines, mainland sites and island beaches, sand spits, blowouts, dredged spoil, and development footprints.
Over past summer breeding seasons along the Turquoise Coast, there have been several unsuccessful breeding events due to human impacts (four-wheel-driving through nesting sites) and predation by foxes and cats.
Fairy Tern workshop learnings:
• Two sub-populations in WA
• WA population of Fairy Tern, have the highest genetic diversity of all Australian populations
• 20% of breeding pairs produce 100% of offspring
• Courtship feeding displays of terns are important for successive breeding and management planning
• Information we collect is important to assist in management decisions in a changing climate
• Monitoring Fairy Terns in the region will assist to create a comprehensive regional snapshot of population dynamics and site management
• Citizen science is a very important aspect of the project involving local communities
If you are keen to be involved in the project or if you have sightings of Fairy Tern, they can be lodged with the South West Fairy Tern Project Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.