Sunday, November 12, 2006

With a Little Bit of Help

Well, with a great deal of help really! On Friday, I set out for a mornings photography in the Wielangta Forest, but increasing cloud and smoke haze saw me driving up the forest road to Orford. Quite by chance, I came upon a couple of Birds Tasmania volunteers, doing a survey of the Fairy Tern colony at the mouth of the river. Birds Tasmania and Coastcare, with some assistance from Parks, have fenced off and look after an area that has something of the order of a dozen pairs of Fairy Terns nesting. Mostly at the moment they have small runners, as seen in the top photo.. Fairy Terns these days, very much need all the assistance they can get. Once found nesting on many parts of the Tasmanian coast, including parts of the Derwent Estuary, their numbers have been in serious decline for 2 decades at least. Choosing to nest on open beaches, the combination of human disturbance and higher sea levels, have taken their toll. Only with the help of volunteers and hopefully the local communities understanding, will they survive in Tasmania.
At the moment, the terns are probably at their most vulnerable, with their small young needing constant attention. I noted while with the BT volunteers, that our presence attracted the inevitable Silver Gulls, no doubt looking for a 'handout'. Despite their small size, the terns take on the gulls with considerable gusto, as you can see from the lower photo., and drive them off. If we got a little too close, they gave us the same treatment, passing less than a metre away. Other species also benefit from fencing off the area, with Hooded and Red-capped Plovers, and Pied Oystercatchers all breeding here. Thank heavens for the volunteers!

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