Fairy Tern Research

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Last weekend 13 local volunteers including Councillor Jones attended a Busy Bee at the Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary. Their mission – to create the perfect habitat for the vulnerable bird.

The Fairy Tern (Sternula nereis nereis) is a small but significant coastal bird species in decline.

Increased extreme weather events, intensive coastal use and predation by feral and domestic animals are significant threats to the Fairy Tern. So much so, that it is now listed as vulnerable under state and federal conservation legislation.

Over the 2016-2017 breeding season, a colony nested in the Mandurah Ocean Marina on the remaining cleared development site (along Breakwater Parade), requiring a postponement on any proposed building. The return of the Fairy Terns to Mandurah to nest, generated significant interest in the community, particularly after two birds were identified (by leg-band) as being 20 years old, breaking the age record, which was previously 17.

Last year the City of Mandurah in partnership with multiple organisations, was successful in acquiring grant funding to establish the Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary. It is expected that survival of this vulnerable species in WA will rely increasingly on ‘managed sites’ like Mandurah’s, the second of its kind.

The Mandurah Fairy Tern Sanctuary is one of several sites that will be monitored as part of important new research being undertaken over the next three years by Murdoch University PhD student, Claire Greenwell. The results of this research will help inform the development of successful conservation strategies in the South-West and could be used as the basis for a national recovery plan. Volunteers can be involved in various capacities, including trialling 'callers' and recording sightings over the different stages of nesting season. These simple but important contributions will build knowledge about the species.

Ms Greenwell began talking to residents about these opportunities to contribute locally, to conservation with outcomes that extend beyond Mandurah at a recent community ‘busy bee’ at the sanctuary.
Councillor Jones, who attended the event, thanked the volunteers for their work to maintain the site ahead of the Terns; summer arrival.

Claire Greenwell also thanked the volunteers.

“But despite the good work from volunteers, the site is still vulnerable and people are advised to keep their dogs away from the northern fence line of the Sanctuary; and off that section of the sea-wall over summer. This is particularly important in the very early stages of colony formation,” Ms Greenwell said.

Ms Greenwell will presenting to the community about her research, at the next Mandurah Environmental Volunteers (MEVAC) forum on Thursday 30 August 4:00pm – 7:00pm (Claire will present at 4:30pm), at the City of Mandurah Tuckey Room, 83 Mandurah