Battle begins on behalf of seabirds

17/10/2018 Posted by admin

NPWS ranger Rowena Morris with a little penguin at Five Islands Nature Reserve. Picture: SUPPLIED

AN ambitious project has begun to save the Big Island seabird habitat on Five Islands Nature Reserve, offshore from Port Kembla.

Because of strangling invasive kikuyu grass and mile-a-minute weeds, the ground-burrowing seabirds such as little penguins, shearwaters and storm-petrels are struggling to rear their young as weeds choke their breeding areas.

The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, a non-government organisation, got behind this project and provided a grant to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to restore the habitat.

During the past few decades the white-faced storm-petrel has undergone a six-fold decline in numbers in NSW, and hasn’t been able to nest on Big Island for the past 40 years because of the weed infestation.

In 1962 there was an estimated 1000 breeding pairs of little penguins on the island, and the last survey in September this year recorded about 215 breeding pairs.

Foundation chief executive officer Susanna Bradshaw said the habitat was “in desperate need of rehabilitation”.

“With support from the foundation, NPWS staff are now reinstating the native vegetation so that the seabirds are able to burrow and nest on this important island once more,” Ms Bradshaw said.

South Coast regional manager of NPWS Diane Garrood said she was delighted to receive support for the project.

On Monday, the wildlife service joined volunteers from Friends of Five Islands and conducted a little penguin and storm-petrel survey, and plan to undertake follow-up work after the initial weed control program.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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