It’s hard to imagine an island world without its birds…
What would the Great Barrier Reef islands be without their white-capped noddies coming in to nest each year? Would Norfolk Island really be the same without it’s masked boobies, red-tailed tropic birds and sooty terns?
More and more, conservation challenges have the very real potential to make a birdless island world a reality. We all need to step in, get our hands dirty and do something about it!
Wild Mob has been working across islands in Australia and the Pacific for almost a decade. Our volunteer conservation projects are designed to make a real, measurable difference to sea and shorebird island habitats. Here’s how.
The importance of protecting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is little secret. But the Great Barrier Reef’s islands are not often recognised as a vital part of this ecosystem.
Many iconic bird species simply wouldn’t survive without their island breeding grounds. Great Barrier Reef Island conservation is thus crucial to the long-term protection of these creatures and many other species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Hundreds of thousands of White Capped Noddies nest on the GBR islands each year.
A key threat to the Great Barrier Reef islands is the marine debris that strangles or starves birds and other marine animals. They become entangled in plastic bags and netting, or mistake smaller debris for food and suffer a painful, starving death.
Wild Mob volunteers conduct extensive marine debris clean up on island foreshores, focussing on key seabird and turtle nesting areas.
The plastic situation improves every time we visit a site. When we first started working on Southern Bay on Goldsmith island, for example, we were waist deep in plastic fragments, bottles, washing machines, thongs, rope, you name it. These days, we really have to hunt for smaller plastic fragments and micro plastic in the sand and sediment!
Norfolk invasives no more!
The Norfolk Island group is home to a whopping 50 endemic species of flora and fauna, including six endemic bird species. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds of 18 species, including shearwaters, terns and boobies, also come to nest on the islands each year. This makes Norfolk a globally Important Bird Area (IBA).
Unfortunately, Norfolk’s incredible biodiversity is in danger, with most endemic bird species considered vulnerable to extinction or extirpation. A key threat is invasive species, in particular rats, which devastate the ecosystem by eating the eggs and young of endemic and threatened species.
Wild Mob works with landholders in the Anson Bay and other areas on Norfolk Island to control introduced rat populations. Depending on need we supply bait stations (with specially formulated bait that poses minimal threat to non-target species) and assist in maintaining baiting programs designed to slow the re-colonisation of rat-controlled areas.
Red-Tailed Tropic Birds nest on the ground on Norfolk, making them vulnerable to rats and cats.
We also co-ordinated the threatened species commissioner’s visit to Norfolk, helping to secure $300,000 funding into the ongoing green parrot recovery program. The program has seen parrot populations come back from the brink; in 2013 there were only 10 confirmed females left. Current population estimates stand around 400 individuals. Winning!
A jewel of New Zealand’s North Island, the Hauraki Gulf is known for its incredible natural beauty and unique biodiversity. Hauraki’s islands are critical nesting grounds for seabirds, and it ranks as another global IBA.
With Auckland’s population set to double between 2010 and 2020, Hauraki’s exceptional island ecosystems become increasingly vulnerable.
Invasive flora species such as mile-a-minute are particularly nasty. They smother Hauraki’s native ecosystems, making it almost impossible for seabirds to next and raise their chicks.
A White-Fronted Tern nesting on the Noises Islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
Wild Mob’s new program – established this year – is focussed primarily on bush rehabilitation on Hauraki’s Noises and neighbouring Rakino islands. There, our volunteers remove the weed cover, and allow the native coastal vegetation to heal.
And together, we can keep the birds singing.