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Leschenault Catchment Council call for volunteers to help better understand the estuary's shorebirds

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The Leschenault Catchment Council is seeking people to help monitor food sources for estuary shorebirds.
Camera IconThe Leschenault Catchment Council is seeking people to help monitor food sources for estuary shorebirds. Credit: Jane Putland/Provided

The Leschenault Catchment Council is calling for volunteers to help better understand the feeding grounds of critically endangered migratory shorebirds.

Katrina Zeehandelaar-Adams, the Leschenault Catchment Council’s biodiversity program manager, said they will be delving into the food availability for shorebirds living along the Leschenault estuary next month. The estuary is a vital ecosystem.

Ms Zeehandelaar-Adams said the Leschenault estuary hosts a huge range of migratory birds each year, with many flying thousands of kilometres, across continents, to arrive in Australia.

“These feeding grounds are really vital because it’s got to get birds ready for thousands of kilometres of flight across the world, so they need all the fuel and nourishment they can get from these areas,” she said.

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“The more quantity and diversity of food in the estuary means we’re going to be able to support a bigger and more diverse population of shorebirds.”

Ms Zeehandelaar-Adams said shorebirds are excellent at indicating the health of an ecosystem, allowing biologists to understand an ecosystem’s health without having to embark on detailed surveys.

“We began sampling in 2020 and 2021, but funding dried up. Now that we have been fortunate to receive funding from Lotterywest we are able to reinstate the project,” she said.

“We’re hoping that several years of data collection will let us see some trends in what’s happening for the shorebirds, and what that might mean for the populations into the future.”

At an information session the Leschenault Catchment Council said many species of migratory shorebirds are listed as vulnerable or endangered, with some birds losing up to 80 per cent of their population in the past 50 years.

Habitat destruction, climate change and nesting disturbance are the main factors impacting shorebirds in Australia the LCC said.

Ms Zeehandelaar-Adams said one way to help nesting shorebirds is to keep dogs on a leash when taking them to the beach, and cats indoors.

“It’s a beautiful place and people want to enjoy it with their dogs, as they should, but there is real evidence that a lot of shorebirds are killed by dogs each year,” she said.

“We all want to preserve this beautiful environment so we can all enjoy it for generations to come, and if you could just keep the dogs on a leash, that would be a really great way to make sure our environment and wildlife is safeguarded into the future.”

The Leschenault Catchment Council will host an induction session about the food monitoring program on February 3. Those interested should visit its website or call 0458 960 579.

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