Threatened Fairy Terns given a helping hand thanks to new sanctuary

Friday, 3 November 2017

Following last year's record-breaking find of two 20-year-old Fairy Terns in Mandurah, a new nesting sanctuary has been established locally to help protect the threatened species.

The project was developed to provide a safe breeding space after a small colony of the birds nested on a vacant development lot last season, but were frequently disturbed.

The City of Mandurah and its project partners have worked to clear the site and spread shell to provide optimal nesting conditions, and have also installed fencing to discourage pedestrian access and prevent chicks from wandering onto the road or footpath.

The Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary is in the Mandurah Ocean Marina, on Breakwater Parade, and is ready ahead of the Fairy Tern breeding season which starts this month.

Mayor Rhys Williams understands the importance the community places on the environment and said the Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary was another way that the City of Mandurah worked to protect it.

“Mandurah is one of the most important regions in WA for these threatened birds so it's great to see positive steps to help protect them,” he said.

“A few pairs of Fairy Terns have already been seen flying over the sanctuary 'scouting' for a nesting site which is a great sign.

“The sanctuary is a fabulous example of how working together can deliver great outcomes for our environment and community alike.”

A community based conservation and Citizen Science program is also in place, led by the Conservation Council of WA. Volunteers will monitor the Fairy Terns and the sanctuary and assist with research tasks such as leg-banding.

Last year, two locally nesting Fairy Terns were identified via leg bands as being 20 years old, breaking the record of the oldest known Australian Fairy Tern which was 17 years old.

The Australian Fairy Tern is listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. In the Peel Region, Fairy Tern breeding colonies have been inconsistent and have declined over time, attributed to a lack of secure nesting sites.

The Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary is a City of Mandurah initiative in partnership with the Conservation Council of WA and Peel Harvey Catchment Council, supported by Birdlife Peel, Cockburn Cement and the WA Water Corporation.

The project is funded by Coastwest, a State Government initiative undertaken by the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

The City urges the community to take care around the sanctuary, avoiding the portion of the breakwater wall directly adjacent over summer to avoid disturbing the birds.

For more information about this important conservation project, call the City on 9550 3777.