Shorebird surveys find rare species in Whyalla

News article |

An annual Shorebird Survey conducted across the Eyre Peninsula has resulted in a rare sighting.

A Red Necked Phalarope – a rare bird species most often found in Arctic coastal environments, was spotted by Dr Greg Kerr of Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula.

It has previously been recorded near Whyalla by local bird watcher Trevor Cox in 1973.

The small shorebird was seen in his breeding colours ready to travel the 14,000kms back to the Arctic circle, on the other side of the world, where he will breed before returning to tropical seas.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula’s Coast and Marine Officer Kate Brocklehurst said this bird is a rare find and the team were excited to see it.

“Most sightings of the bird are in the northern hemisphere, and during the non-breeding period it can be normally be found off the coast of Ecuador, Peru, the Chilean and Patagonian coast, the Arabian Peninsula and Asia. The bird is rarely recorded in Australia.

“In Australia it’s more likely to be seen at Port Headland and Rottnest Island, so we were very lucky to see it near Whyalla.”

Shorebird surveys have been carried out over Eyre Peninsula by volunteers each summer as part of Birdlife Australia’s Shorebird 2020 Program.

Migratory shorebirds are declining across the world due to the loss of mudlflats, beaches and inland wetlands, and are threatened by sea level rise, hunting and disturbance in roosting areas particularly through the East-Asian Australasian Flyway migratory route.

Shorebird 2020 monitors the population trends of shorebirds in Australia and the data informs conservation actions in Australia and the flyway.

“Over the last two years we have spent a lot of time training locals to become good bird watchers as part of our citizen science program,” Ms Brocklehurst said.

“This is now really paying off with excellent surveys being carried out all over the region.”

Find out more about the Citizen Science programs.

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