Fairy Tern eggs in Warnbro destroyed

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
A Fairy Tern.
Camera IconA Fairy Tern. Credit: Picture: Claire Greenwell/Claire Greenwell.

A Fairy Tern colony at Becher Point in Warnbro has been found abandoned with most of the eggs destroyed just days after temporary fencing was put up to give the threatened birds the best possible chance of survival.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service on December 7 received reports of up to 200 Australian fairy terns at the site, with nests seen.

The department worked with the City of Rockingham to build a fence the next morning, which surrounded eight nesting birds.

But on December 11 Citizen Science volunteers found the site largely abandoned and most of the eggs destroyed by an unknown animal.

Despite the area being prohibited to dogs and off-road vehicles, sightings of fresh four-wheel drive tracks and off-leash dogs were reported at the site.

A department spokeswoman said plans were made to extend the fence for the expanding nesting colony, but it had unfortunately failed. A contractor had also been hired for fox control, but was unsuccessful.

Citizen Science co-ordinator Dr Nick Dunlop said there has been a “lack of compliance” by recreational users at the site for many years and that prohibiting dogs and 4WD vehicles from important habitats, like Becher Point, was “critical” in ensuring safe areas for coastal birds to breed.

The Australian Fairy Terns were classified as threatened in 2011, due to the heavy impact of human activities along the coast on their breeding grounds.

The spokeswoman confirmed dogs and off-road vehicles were prohibited within the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, which adjoins the reserve surrounding Becher Point.

“Unauthorised vehicle access has been an ongoing management issue in the reserve and surrounding areas for many years,” she said.

“DBCA continues to implement on-ground works to address this issue including the installation of heavy duty gates, positioning limestone boulders and undertaking regular patrols.”

Several large signs have also been installed around the reserve banning unauthorised vehicles.

About 70 fines have been issued over the last 12 months for unauthorised vehicle access.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails