Rare bird work takes flight
THE future is looking good for rare shorebirds at Mobbs Bay at South Ballina.
EnviTE and the National Parks and Wildlife Service have teamed up to deliver a three-year environmental trust project at the Richmond River Nature Reserve.
This area is one of only a handful of areas in Ballina Shire that is suitable for endangered shorebirds, such as the pied oystercatcher and beach stone curlew, so keeping it in top condition is a priority.
Launching the project yesterday, EnviTE's environmental officer, Georgina Jones, agreed that the Richmond River Nature Reserve was "very important for various ecological reasons".
"The work we're doing is to control weeds such as asparagus fern and bitou bush," she said.
"We have a lot of problems with garden escapees.
"Certainly this is a challenging site, as it's very popular for recreational purposes.
"A lot of people come here on weekends.
"So part of what we're doing is raising awareness about the importance of coastal habitats for shorebirds."
Organisations such as Birds Australia and Byron Bird Buddies are also involved with the project on a volunteer basis.
Hans Lutter from Birds Australia said they had noticed a rapid decline in the population of shorebirds since they first started monitoring them 30 years ago.
"One of the main reasons is because the human population has increased," he said.
"These are extremely rare birds - some of them fly all the way here to Ballina from Siberia, and then back again when it's our winter, which is a 25,000km round trip.
"When the birds arrive here they need to double their body weight, so it's very important that they're not disturbed.
"Humans, and dogs in particular, should keep away from their roosting sites."
EnviTE project officer, Virginia Seymour, said a team had already started work in the reserve and were making steady progress.
"We have seen a fantastic amount of regeneration," she said.
"What we are trying to do is get a really good balance.
"We don't want all mature plants, but we don't want just baby plants, either.
"The team has been going through and taking out all of the mature weeds and then we will have to come back again and again, combing through to take out all the smaller weeds as they being to grow.
"It's a slow process, but we will see great results."