Survey data results add to draft plan
An Exmouth biodiversity hotspot has provided important information for researchers surveying rare and endangered migratory bird species.
As part of a draft management plan being developed for conserving the habitat of the Exmouth Gulf Islands and Cape Preston, a team from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Birdlife Australia and volunteers this month conducted a survey of migratory birds.
DBCA Pilbara regional manager Arvid Hogstrom said the surveys had produced a lot of useful data on the species and habits of the islands’ migratory birdlife.
“Vulnerable species such as the eastern curlew and bar-tailed godwit are wary and sensitive to disturbance,” he said.
“Both of those species are also listed as critically endangered under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, so it was exciting to find them on the island.”
On the trip, researchers sighted a red-necked stint with a flag band, showing the bird had travelled from Broome to Exmouth and had likely just arrived from breeding grounds about 10,000km away.
They also recorded a small flock of protected species the eastern curlew and a 600-strong flock of roseate terns, a type of seabird.
Migratory birds are generally difficult to track because they mainly stay on isolated coastal areas such as islands other than to fly vast distances for a short breeding season.
The DBCA management plan for protecting the Exmouth Gulf islands is still in its draft stages but is likely to include developing designated campsites on islands, encouraging visitors to camp on boats and away from protected sites, and providing community education about conservation values and threats.
The Parks and Wildlife Service’s Exmouth office is also asking recreational fishers to report sightings of tagged fairy terns on Pilbara islands by phoning 9947 8000.
This red-necked stint is likely to have travelled from 10,000km away.