Bird’s eye view for SW volunteers during 2020 count

Phil Coulthard, Dolphin Discover CentreSouth Western Times
The team on the job at Leschenault Estuary.
Camera IconThe team on the job at Leschenault Estuary.

Or local waterways - Koombana Bay, the Leschenault Estuary and Inlet - offer world-class bird watching.

There are more than 70 species (5000 individuals) of shorebirds that have been identified within these areas at any one time, making the Bunbury region one of the most critically important bird habitats in Australia.

One such bird that can be seen here at this time of the year is the red-necked stint.

Weighing in at only 28 grams, this little guy is one of up to 21 migratory species of waders that travel thousands of kilometres from the Northern Hemisphere to spend the summer here in Bunbury.

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The Leschenault Estuary team.
Camera IconThe Leschenault Estuary team.

The path the birds take is called a “flyway” and we are lucky enough here in the South West to be a stopping point on that path.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that migratory shorebird populations throughout the world are declining due to widespread habitat destruction, especially those using the flyways of the Asia Pacific.

Fortunately, we are at the southern end of their migration route and uniquely placed to assess the impacts of these threats on their numbers.

This is one of the many reasons why our local area has been included within Australia’s national shorebird monitoring program.

Known as the Shorebirds 2020 Program, this initiative is a collaborative enterprise between Birdlife Australia and Australasian Waders Study Group and is funded by the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country and WWF-Australia.

The main aim of the program is to raise a general awareness of shorebirds within the local community and to gather vital information needed to conserve both them and their environment.

Collecting this information can be a difficult task with annual bird counts carried out by thousands of volunteers across the country.

Birdlife WA’s Bunbury branch plan to conduct counts at 22 sites in and around the Leschenault Estuary on Sunday starting at 8am.

Volunteers don’t need to be bird experts, just have a love for our great outdoors and have the ability to tell the difference between a seagull and a swan.

They will be teamed with a bird expert who will assist with identification of species at a particular location and ensure accurate counts are carried out.

More information regarding the National Shorebird 2020 count can also be found at the official Birdlife Australia website www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020.

The site offers featured bird profiles, updates on research and conservation projects, a fantastic activity page full of fun facts for the kids as well as a comprehensive section on how you can become involved as a volunteer.

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