Count on Bunbury to host shorebirds

Phil CoulthardSouth Western Times

It might surprise you to learn that the greater South West region is considered one of the most critically important shorebird habitats in Australia.

The Vasse-Wonnerup and Mandurah-Peel systems are particularly important with their expansive waterways supporting tens of thousands of birds, however our very own Bunbury-Leschenault district has always been an important ecosystem with 72 of the 104 shorebirds species that exist in Australia found right here.

For this reason the region was once again been included as part of Australia’s National Shorebird 2020 monitoring count to be held on Saturday.

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 was to raise a general awareness of shorebirds within the community and to gather vital information needed to conserve them and their environment.

Cormorants take a break while checking out what is on offer in the Leschenault Estuary.
Camera IconCormorants take a break while checking out what is on offer in the Leschenault Estuary. Credit: Bunbury Birdlife

Collecting this information can be a difficult task with annual bird counts carried out by thousands of volunteers across the country. In the Bunbury region, volunteer teams from Birdlife Australia will be out in force with their binoculars and telescopes, covering the majority of beaches, the Leschenault Estuary and inlet, Big Swamp and the conservation reserve south to The Cut.

All shorebirds were counted including swans, pelicans, the graceful stilts, avocets, egrets and herons, the suite of duck species, seabirds such as terns, shearwaters, gannets, the attractive black and white oystercatchers with their orange-red beaks and legs and the ubiquitous silver gulls.

The team were also be keen to identify how many migratory waders are in the area this year.

There are 22 migratory species of shorebirds that travel many thousands of kilometres from the Northern Hemisphere to spend the summer here in Bunbury-Leschenault, most from as far north as the Siberian Tundra in the Arctic Circle.

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.

The red-necked stint is just one of 22 migratory species of waders that travel thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere to spend the summer in Bunbury.
Camera IconThe red-necked stint is just one of 22 migratory species of waders that travel thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere to spend the summer in Bunbury.

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

For more information regarding National Shorebird 2020, visit the official Birdlife Australia website www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020.

The site offers featured bird profiles, updates on research and conservation projects.

The red-necked stint is just one of 22 migratory species of waders that travel thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere to spend the summer in Bunbury.
Camera IconThe red-necked stint is just one of 22 migratory species of waders that travel thousands of kilometres from the northern hemisphere to spend the summer in Bunbury.

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