Summer visitors to Lancelin islands

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Fairy terns leave the Pilbara sometime in spring and some of them breed in the islands off Lancelin.

ALTHOUGH fairy terns visit Perth during the summer they generally stay on the islands off Lancelin and not in Yanchep and surrounding areas, according to Perth NRM coastal and marine program manager Craig Wilson.

Mr Wilson said the fairy terns migrate from the Pilbara in September or October to breed and can be found in the Perth area until February or March.

“Generally, fairy terns are found at the mouth of estuaries (North Fremantle,  Peel Harvey), on islands (Rottnest, Carnac) or sand spits (Point Walter, Point Peron, Woodman Point),’’ he said.

“I am not aware of any breeding colonies in the northern beaches of Perth however locations such as the offshore islands of Lancelin do support Fairy Terns.’’

He said the small tern was listed as a vulnerable species and was under pressure from a range of threats including disturbance, loss of habitat and predation from feral animals.

“Fairy terns feed on small bait fish and can be seen dipping into near shore waters before heading back to their breeding colonies.

“Nesting sites consist of a shallow scape in the sand with one or two specked eggs that blend into the background.

“Population estimates for Western Australia are thought to number around 1600 breeding pairs so any breeding colony is an important contribution to the longevity of the species.

”Current breeding colonies can be found at Rous Head in North Fremantle, where Fremantle Ports has established a protected sanctuary for the “terns, and on Rottnest Island.

”We are asking the people who walk our Perth beaches to report any sightings of breeding fairy terns to their coastcare officers so plans can be put in place to protect them over the breeding period.’’

Contact our coastal officers Craig Wilson craig.wilson@kwinana.wa.gov.au or Kate Sputore cco@cottesloe.wa.gov.au if you spot the birds.

Birds Australia said in the Lancelin area bushbirds could be seen at Bashford’s Nature Reserve, K.W. Rd, Moore River National Park, Regans Ford, Cowalla Bridge and, Nilgen Nature Reserve.

Waterbirds and waders in wetlands can be found at Lake Guraga, Lake Namming and Namming Nature Reserve, Karakin Lake and Doopiter Swamp.

Group excursions are organised to Karakin Lake and Doopiter Swamp, which are on

private property and to reduce impact and inconvenience birdwatchers should try to join an organised excursion.

Migratory birds and seabirds could be seen on the beaches at Lancelin, Ledge Point and Guilderton and at the Lancelin and Edwards Island Nature Reserves.

For more information about birds in the Lancelin area visit  http://birdlife.org.au/images/uploads/branches/documents/WA-15ab_lancelin.pdf

Meanwhile applications are open for the State Government’s 2015-16 Coastwest grants and Coastal Management Plan Assistance Program grants.

Planning Minister John Day said $600,000 was available for coastal managers and community groups undertaking initiatives aimed at the protection and management of Western Australia’s coastlines.

For more information visit http://www.planning.wa.gov.au