A FAIRY tern sanctuary at an industrial park in Fremantle has been recognised internationally by PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure.
Fremantle Ports’ bird sanctuary at the Rous Head Industrial Park received an official “Working with Nature Certificate of Recognition” from PIANC.
Fremantle Ports’ breeding sanctuary for fairy terns is contributing to the conservation of these vulnerable little birds in Western Australia, according to a statement from the Port.
The number of breeding pairs has grown significantly since the sanctuary at Rous Head was established by Fremantle Ports in 2012 – from less than 100 in 2013-14 to about 250 in 2017-18.
Fremantle Ports used sandy material dredged in the Inner Harbour deepening of 2010 to create the breeding conditions favoured by the fairy terns. The site was replenished with shelly sand before the past breeding season.
The birds make their nests in a scrape in shelly sand and lay one to two speckled eggs.
Fremantle Ports works with the Conservation Council to monitor the success of the sanctuary.
The chicks on site in January were banded as part of CCWA’s Fairy Tern Network Monitoring Program to understand more about fairy tern movements, relationships and population health.
Funding provided by Fremantle Ports has supported the setting up of the Fairy Tern Network, including a social media platform to encourage and coordinate community involvement.
The fairy tern breeding sanctuary at Rous Head is fenced to protect the nesting colony from intrusion and to prevent the chicks from straying onto the adjacent pedestrian and cycle pathway.
The Australian fairy tern (Sternula nereis nereis) is about 22-27 centimetres in length, with a wingspan of 44-53 centimetres, according information from the Department of Environment and Energy.
The little birds eat bait-sized fish, caught by diving into shallow water. They are pale grey-white with a spot of black on the head and neck. They can be found along the coasts of Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia – as far north as the Dampier Archipelago.
The fairy tern is listed as “vulnerable”, and its population is thought to be in decline due to habitat disturbance and predators, with its main threat thought to be disturbance of breeding sites by human activities.