Shorebirds in Peel-Yalgorup System counted, assessed

 Kim Wilson from Peel Harvey Catchment Council.
Kim Wilson from Peel Harvey Catchment Council.

SHOREBIRDS across the Ramsar listed Peel-Yalgorup System have been counted and assessed, as part of the annual Shorebird 2020 Count.

The count was facilitated by Peel-Harvey Catchment Council in partnership with Birdlife Peel branch.

The count spanned 26,000 hectares of the Peel-Yalgorup system, and involved 17 teams and 66 volunteers, with the count continuing across the nation through to 2020.

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While locally, much of the counting took place over two weeks, the official count day was held on Sunday, February 5, with the band of volunteers from the local community, Birdlife WA, Birdlife WA Peel branch, PHCC staff, Murdoch University, the WA Museum and Department of Parks and Wildlife representatives.

PHCC chairman Andy Gulliver said the Peel-Yalgorup system represented one of 150 sites, forming part of the count across the nation, and provides vital data regarding the population trends of shorebirds in Australia.

“Peel-Harvey Catchment Council has been involved with the count for the past nine years,” he said.

“Ahead of the count we work with Birdlife WA Peel Branch to facilitate ID training workshops to ensure our volunteers are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help carry out the count.”

“The Peel Yalgorup System is an integral part of the East-Asian Australasian Flyway, with global data suggesting Shorebirds using this flyway are under great threat from habitat damage, and are being impacted by urban development and associated recreational activities.

“The count helps with our conservation efforts, providing an understanding of the factors affecting declining populations and environmental impacts.”

A prime feeding ground and habitat for migratory shorebirds arriving each Spring from Siberia, China, Japan and Korea, the Peel-Yalgorup System regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds, and serves as home to more than one per cent of the individuals in a species population.

PHCC CEO Jane O’Malley said the Count is part of the implementation of the Peel-Yalgorup System Management Plan, with preparations beginning well before the Count does.

“Our process commences three months beforehand, so we can attract our wonderful volunteers and work with Count team leaders,” she said.

“Some of our volunteer citizen scientists have been involved with the count for over 20 years.

“We also fund and organise the ID workshops, which for nine years have been delivered by Bill Rutherford of Ornithological Technical Services, and play an important role in getting the count right.”

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council will now collate the data, and provide this to Birdlife Australia, helping to inform national population trends, and assist with information around what is driving any population changes locally and across the nation.

Participation in the count was made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

For more information about the Shorebird 2020 Count visit