STAR news 2023
Thousands in Whyalla shorebird count
More than 4,000 shorebirds were counted over three-and-a-half hours during our annual Whyalla saltpans shorebird survey which takes place within an industrial area with high numbers of birds.
From the 4,000+ shorebirds counted, 25 species were recognised including a very encouraging count of 22 of the critically endangered Curlew Sandpiper (after none were recorded at the site last summer). Two shorebirds not previously recorded there were also sighted – the Marsh Sandpiper and Oriental Plover.
Overall, there were better numbers and diversity recorded compared to last summer's count. The survey has been running since 2017.
The bird data from the survey is now uploaded to the birdlife website.
Visitor awareness on local beaches
This is Point Brown on the far west coast of Eyre Peninsula, between Streaky Bay and Ceduna.
We've installed new shorebird signage here to educate the community on how to minimise their impact on beach-nesting shorebirds who use the beach as a food source and nesting habitat. Nesting season is still active, with Eyre Peninsula birds potentially nesting until mid-April.
For the birds' nesting to be successful, it's really important that they are not disturbed. Look out for signs such as these at local beaches that help to inform visitors that there are nesting birds nearby who need to be given space to help chicks survive and thrive.
Meet Haswell’s Shore Crab (Helograpsus haswellianus)
You’ll have to sneak up on these shy little crabs to catch a glimpse but their burrows are easy to find just above the tide mark in our saltmarshes. These little mud crabs produce swarms of zoaea (larvae) at the highest tides of the month, feeding shoals of juvenile fish and prawns that enter the marshes during highwater.
These complex saltmarsh ecosystems provide vital nursery habitat for many commercially important species, including the Western King Prawn and King George Whiting.
We’ve been learning all about saltmarsh connections through our STAR project and we’ll be sharing this knowledge with the community with interpretive signs to be installed later this year at two saltmarsh locations inside the Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone at Eight-Mile Creek and Murrippi Beach.
Clean up at Streaky Bay
We’ve had staff and volunteers work on restoring threatened samphire habitat at the Streaky Bay Spit this week with a marine debris clean-up. Whilst undertaking the work, our staff had the opportunity to liaise with local oyster growers who helped to recover washed-up oyster baskets.
Rabbit control for saltmarsh remediation
Temperate coastal saltmarsh is a vital feeding, roosting and refuge habitat, as well as being one of the world’s most efficient ecosystems at sequestering carbon. More than 7,000 hectares of Eyre Peninsula’s threatened saltmarsh has been improved through on-ground works undertaken by our team.
Thanks to our STAR project, landscape officers have been working on priority actions to improve the condition of temperate coastal saltmarsh – an EPBC Act listed Threatened Ecological Community.
We’ve been working with landholders at priority saltmarsh sites where remediation works have been undertaken to improve saltmarsh condition. Around 2,000 hectares of targeted rabbit control has been undertaken at six saltmarsh sites across Eyre Peninsula. Each site is surveyed for evidence of rabbit presence and grazing impacts, with monitoring and follow-up control conducted over four years, to ensure the best opportunity for regrowth after ripping and establishing new plantings.
Removing marine debris to help shorebirds
Back before school finished up, we worked with Untamed Escapes and Kedron State High School from Queensland to remove marine debris from a threatened Hooded Plover nesting territory on southern Eyre Peninsula.
Beach nesting birds - including the threatened Hooded Plover - depend on healthy coastal habitats for their survival. Debris on our beaches can have severe consequences by causing disturbance, attracting predators and increasing the risk of entanglement. Marine debris was removed from more than 1km of remote coastline, with the group also excited to spot a pair of Hooded Plovers with a nest. Special care was taken to avoid the nesting area.
The debris collected was then sorted at a workshop with the help of the Lower Eyre Peninsula Home School group. A staggering 132kg of debris was removed, and included materials such as 66m of rope, 962 rope fragments and 247 pieces of broken glass.
Data will be entered into the national Tangaroa Blue Foundation database.
A great example of many hands making light work!
Video showcases EP saltmarsh
We’ve got a new video out that showcases Eyre Peninsula’s saltmarsh ecosystems; and the work we've been undertaking to help protect them as part of the STAR project for the past few years. Saltmarsh is vital to our local fishing industries & shorebirds such as the threatened Hooded Plover. It’s also a valuable blue carbon source.
Hally's hoodies fledged
Great news from one of our landscape officers today – the threatened Hooded Plover chicks at Hally’s Beach near Streaky Bay have made it to fledgling age! This means they can now fly which gives them an even better chance at survival.
If you visit Hally’s (or any other beaches with beach nesting birds), please keep your dog on a leash, walk close to the water’s edge and give them space if you happen to spot them.
Fowlers Bay samphire
We’ve installed new samphire signage within Fowlers Bay Conservation Park to educate visitors about the importance of temperate saltmarsh filtering run off and providing foraging habitat for shorebirds.
The samphire - which is located behind the township - has some groundwater connection to the sea and contains the vulnerable species Tecticornia flabelliformis (fan samphire).
The signage also aims to limit threats from off road vehicles which has led to the degradation of this fragile samphire ecosystem. Saltmarshes of Southern Australia are now protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to halt further loss.
We worked with National Parks and Wildlife Service SA on installing this.