Shorebirds, otherwise known as waders, commonly feed by wading in shallow water or mud along shores of lakes, rivers and the sea. Thousands of shorebirds use Bundaberg’s shores each year to feed, roost and breed.
During a 20 year lifetime, a long distance migrating shorebird would travel over 400,000 km! Long-distance migration involves non-stop flights of 4,000 km and more - sometimes up to 11,000 km.
A total of 75 shorebird species occur in Australia. 18 of these are found in the Bundaberg region and breed during our summer. Resident shorebirds lay eggs in scrapes on soft sand above the high tide. Both eggs and chicks are well camouflaged among beach debris such as sea-weed and shells, providing natural protection against predation. This makes them difficult to see and therefore especially vulnerable to crushing by people and vehicles.
42 species of migratory shorebird visit our shores from September through to April each year to roost and feed. These birds fly extraordinary distances between their breeding ground in Northern China, Siberia and Alaska to our shores along routes called Flyways. The birds stop along the way at important wetlands to rest and feed intensively to build up energy reserves to fuel the next leg of their flight.
The birds often arrive on our shores in poor condition and are extremely vulnerable to disturbance and predation. They must eat up to one-third of their body weight every day to fuel their active lifestyle as well as build up fat reserves for their long return migration northwards
Shorebirds are recognised as a matter of national environmental significance under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. More information on threats to shorebirds, bilateral migratory bird agreements, Australian migratory waterbirds and conservation plans can be found on the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy website.
What can you do?
- Learn to identify shorebirds and recognise their nests
- Don’t approach feeding or nesting shorebirds
- Walk by the water’s edge if you suspect nesting shorebirds
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Keep off the dunes as dunes represent an essential part of the coastal environment. They stabilise sand and provide nesting habitat for shorebirds and a refuge from predators for chicks
- Only drive on designated beaches. Drive below the most recent high tide and aim to drive within 2 hours of low tide
- Keep your pets secured at night to avoid them roaming the beach
- Remove all rubbish, including fish scraps to avoid attracting predators such as foxes and gulls that prey on shorebird chicks and eggs
Dr Mays Island
In 2015, Council recognised the value of Dr May’s Island in the Elliott River to local and migratory shorebirds. The area is a declared shorebird roosting and feeding area. To reduce the disturbance to the shorebirds roosting in this area, Dr Mays Island is closed from September to April each year. Visitors are to remain outside of the designated shorebird area. Dogs are to be kept on leash at all times.