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Endangered birds re-tern to Robe

News release
20 March 2020

A colony of endangered Fairy Terns have had a successful nesting event at Robe.

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA Senior Ranger Cath Bell said the birds have historically used this site for breeding, but with limited success.

“Fairy Terns were last observed attempting to nest in the same location in 2012, and some years before,” Cath said.

“Unfortunately the site was abandoned before any chicks fledged, and they hadn’t returned until a few months ago.”

The Fairy Tern is the smallest of the Australian tern species and can be identified by its white body, black crown with black extending to the eye, and bright orange-yellow beak. Listed as endangered in South Australia, the small birds nest in colonies on the ground atop cliffs or on beaches and sandy spits. They are extremely vulnerable to disturbance due to nesting directly on the ground.

“The key difference for this breeding event compared to other years is the barrier fencing installed by the District Council of Robe,” Cath said.

“The fencing was installed for public safety, and has also protected the remaining fragile vegetation on the cliff tops, keeping habitat intact for the Fairy Tern.

“This prevented the continual disturbance of the nesting colony from pedestrians trampling across the cliff tops.”

“It’s exciting to see the return of this endangered species to the area, and we hope to see more successful breeding in years to come.”

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Media and Communications Coordinator