Artificial roost sites for shorebirds in Botany Bay, Australia

Written by Kylie McClelland

The NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) is working with the Sydney Metro and Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authorities to create artificial roost structures for shorebirds in Botany Bay, through an Australian Government Caring for our Country grant. This collaborative program has consolidated existing projects and seeks to create new initiatives to protect seabirds, migratory waders and threatened, breeding shorebirds and their sensitive fringe habitats.

The primary objectives of this project are to:

  • build and consolidate baseline knowledge of shorebird populations through benchmark biodiversity surveys and threat assessments of critical coastal habitats;
  • improve the condition of shorebird habitat through implementing habitat protection, augmentation and restoration works within the Towra Point Nature Reserve RAMSAR site; and
  • increase community awareness of shorebird and seabird ecology, threats and conservation status through an educational campaign and active engagement in habitat restoration and protection efforts.

Long-term monitoring records since 2001 have been collected by the NSW Wader Study group and are being entered into DECCW???s Atlas of NSW Wildlife database. A brochure on the significance of Towra Point, its shorebirds and endangered ecological communities will be published and distributed to increase community awareness. Signs alerting the public of access restrictions to Towra Spit Island and the sensitivities of nesting Little Terns to disturbance have been erected. A Community Fishing Tackle Clean-Up Day was also held in May 2009 to raise community awareness of the issue of discarded fishing tackle and its impact on shorebirds and marine life.

Botany-bay-waders-pied-oystercatchers-d

Peid Oystercatchers using artificial roost sites. ?? Deb Andrew

Two trial artificial roost structures for shorebirds will be installed within the Towra Point Aquatic Reserve in Quibray Bay and at Pelican Point in Botany Bay.

The artificial roosts are 48 posts half of which are joined by a rail. These mimic oyster lease structures the birds are known to use.

These wooden structures are intended to act as supplementary roosts for shorebirds during high tide, when existing structures become partially or wholly submerged, reducing roosting opportunities for the birds. Whilst the current grant provides for the installation of structures at two sites, DECCW has sought the relevant approvals for up to eight sites within southern Botany Bay, contingent on obtaining future additional funds and on the effectiveness of the trial roosts.

In partnership with the NSW Wader Study Group???s long-term shorebird surveys, DECCW has monitored Botany Bay???s shorebird populations (for their diversity and abundance) in the lead up to the installation of the artificial roost structures to collect baseline data. This monitoring will continue post- installation to determine if and how the structures are being used by the shorebirds, and whether there is a preference for posts over railings.

For further information relating to this project please contact Kylie McClelland, Threatened Species Officer, via telephone (02) 9585 6691 or email kylie.mcclelland@environment.nsw.gov.au

Source: Tattler

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