Shire of Denmark to vote on the development of a bird sanctuary at Prawn Rock Channel

Isabel VieiraAlbany Advertiser
Curlew sandpiper
Camera IconCurlew sandpiper Credit: John Anderson

A bird sanctuary would be created at Prawn Rock Channel to protect shorebirds under a proposal to be discussed at the next Shire of Denmark council meeting on March 15.

More than 50 species of shorebirds, seabirds and waterbirds have been recorded at Wilson Inlet from the sandbar up to Poddyshot Bay, with three of those species listed as critically endangered and two as endangered.

In 2014, the council approved the installation of a seasonal fence to discourage users from entering the sand flats, adjacent to the northern part of Prawn Rock Channel Island to protect the migratory birds.

In 2018, the Denmark Bird Group attended a council forum and presented a proposal for a permanent bird protection sanctuary for resident and migratory birds at the Prawn Rock Channel-Wilson Inlet Bar Precinct at Ocean Beach.

The sanctuary would aim to limit incidents between birds, dogs and other users of the area and would sit alongside a no-dogs zone and dog exercise area on Wilson Inlet sand flats.

“Regrettably, the birdlife is under increasing disruption and disturbance from incompatible recreational activities, principally from people and from dog exercising,” the Denmark Bird Group’s proposal said.

“To date, these threats have not been addressed adequately and there is now a pressing and fundamental need to reduce those pressures and threats to provide the birdlife, some of which are either endangered or critically endangered, with a greater measure of protection.”

At a council meeting on May 19, 2021 the council adopted the ocean to channel upgrades concept plan which endorsed the consultation plan for the proposed bird sanctuary.

The officer’s recommendations include a permanent and removable fencing around Prawn Rock Island, a bird observation hide, educational signage and improved access for dog walkers from Ocean Beach lookout in future years.

Shire projects manager and report author Damian Schwarzbach said the main goal of a sanctuary was to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct and to protect important wildlife habitats.

Mr Schwarzbach has recommended that Shire chief executive David Schober give public notice of the Shire’s intent to develop the bird sanctuary.

“Over many years, studies of the birdlife in the Wilson Inlet have revealed that the Prawn Rock Channel area and Morley Beach are the most important sites for shorebirds,” he said.

“These areas are important because they have a variety of food services needed for the survival of these species.

“This is especially the case for migratory shorebirds that arrive from their 12,000km journey from the Arctic regions of Siberia in need of replenishing their bodies.”

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