Monday, June 12, 2006

Kelps Cause Concern

My blog on Pacific Gulls coincided with Birds Tasmania's Annual Gull Count in South East Tasmania -- reported in today's Mercury newspaper. About 10,000 gulls were counted, of which about half were reported from South Hobart and Glenorchy tips. The major finding was that both Silver and Pacific Gulls are in decline, but the only other species, the Kelp Gull, has continued to increase. Its' numbers have increased by about 8 times since 1980. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the Kelp Gull has taken over large parts of Orielton Lagoon as a breeding ground, and is breeding in small numbers in other important habitat. These habitats have been set aside for waders, both migratory and our own breeding birds. The invasive Kelp Gull is denying these areas to the very birds these areas were set aside for. The numbers of Kelp Gulls breeding and competing for nesting sites with Pacific Gulls on offshore islands is also likely to be the major cause of the decline in Pacific Gull numbers. There have been programmes of culling Silver Gull eggs, mainly on the causeways where they represent a driving hazard. I think it's past time to put in place a plan to reduce or eliminate Kelp Gulls from vunerable habitat. Too often there is a lack of pro active planning, preferring, apparently, to wait until an issue requires the expenditure of many dollars and employs the 'experts' who could have prevented it happening in the first place. It's past time to address this issue.
[Photos show, an adult Kelp Gull, and Silver Gulls (some of a flock of around 1000 birds at Sorell this morning)].

1 comment:

Felix Wilson said...

Nicely put Alan, I agree that the numbers of Kelp Gulls should be controlled in areas that have been set aside for other species. Goulds Lagoon is another place where the Kelp Gull is taking advantage of nesting boxes provided (presumably ) for ducks. The death of a thousand cuts seems to be the way that many species become threatened. Gradual habitat loss, disturbance and competition from invasive species all contribute to the slow (or not so slow) decline of species, and often nothing is done until the species is truly endangered, where this could have been avoided by timely strategic action.