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This project is supported by The Central Qld Coast Landcare Network through funding from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country

Caring for our Country

Pioneer Catchment & Landcare Group is supported by Mackay Regional Council through the Natural Environment Levy and Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Limited.

Reef Catchments Mackay Regional Council

Welcome to Waders (2010 - 2012)

Main proponent:     PCL
Cash funding:   Rio Tinto's Hail Creek Mine Community Benefit Fund
Other proponents:   Birds Australia, Deakin University, Queensland Wader Studies Group
In kind funding:   Birds Australia, Deakin University, Queensland Wader Studies Group

Project outline:

Around 23,000 shorebirds (or ‘waders’) visit the Mackay region annually from as far afield as Siberia and Alaska. Other species breed locally. The importance of this region for shorebird conservation was recently recognised through the designation of the area as an Important Bird Area (IBA; Dutson, Garnett & Gole 2009) by Birds Australia and Rio Tinto.

However, the human population of the Mackay region is set to increase by 68% by 2030 and, without active measures to ensure successful coexistence, shorebirds will be directly impacted. Community education and involvement in conservation strategies is critical to sustainable growth that supports the economic, social and environmental values of this region.

This multi-partner project aims to increase awareness of shorebirds to over 500 community members through identification and training sessions for the community and school students; engage the community in conservation strategies and, understand the pressures on shorebirds during critical life stages.

Project achievements and outcomes:

The delivery of this project has involved the following community involvement:

 - Six community identification days;

 - A community workshop facilitated by members of the Queensland Wader Studies Group (QWSG);

 - Social survey of residents attitudes towards shorebirds and coastal habitats;

Shorebirds are a particularly difficult group of birds to identify; community (left) and schools (right) identification sessions are a great way to engage the community with shorebirds that live in our region.

This project will also develop a community nest monitoring program to understand the fate of nests. A successful nesting attempt is one where all eggs hatch chicks, which has obvious direct consequences for population growth. The breeding ecology of Australia's resident (non-migratory) shorebirds are poorly known, despite the fact they are a particularly threatened group of birds, and that breeding is a critical and vulnerable stage of their life cycles (Geering et al. 2007).

The Masked Lapwing, Vanellus miles, is a common resident shorebird of many wetland, urban and agricultural habitats. The Bush Stone-curlew, Burhinus grallarius, is resident shorebird found in open woodland habitats. Nationally the Bush Stone-curlew is listed as Near Threatened with extinction, whereas southern states list the species as Vulnerable due to destruction of woodland habitat and predation by introduced predators (IUCN Redlist Sept 2010). The Masked Lapwing and Bush Stone-curlew occur within a variety of habitats and it is likely that the habitat influences the success of any nesting attempts. For example, a well watered urban lawn may offer more suitable foraging opportunities compared with pastures; conversely, urban areas expose nests to greater predation by domestic animals. Understanding how habitats influence nests may explain the success of nesting attempts. In addition, the process of urbanisation is ongoing and occurs to varying levels. For example, the popularity of peri-urban (urban fringing properties greater than 5 acres and usually less than 100 acres) ownership is significant in this region, however its role in shorebird habitat is unknown.

 The Masked Lapwing and Bush Stone-curlew commonly occur in a variety of habitats around the Mackay region, and yet, surprisingly little is known about the level of success of their breeding attempts. These species have been chosen for a few specific reasons: 1) They are relatively common shorebirds whose nests are commonly identified; 2) they are a representative species. In other words, the fate of nests from these species can be inferred for other shorebird species and, 3) nests are more inconspicuous than other species that nest on open beache. Therefore, these species and this region are particularly well positioned to efficiently monitor a number of nests, over a variety of urban, perui-urban and rural land uses, to better understant the cause, if any, of nest failures. Information that is highly sought after in other regions where these species occur.