Recently at our Toondah Probus Club our guest speaker was Peter Rothlisberg whose topic was ‘Wading and Shore Birds of Moreton Bay’. Peter is the current secretary of the Queensland Waders Study Group (www.waders.org.au). He has now retired from CSIRO which he joined in 1975, but still works at the University of Queensland campus. The Queensland Wader Study Group (QWSG) was established in 1992 as a special interest group within Birds Queensland, to monitor wader populations in Queensland and to work towards their conservation. The term waders is used in the UK, and shorebirds is used in the US. In Australia we use both terms to denote such species as Plovers, Lapwings, Curlews, and Sandpipers. The survival of all of which are in trouble in Moreton Bay because of the following issues:
• Coastal development (e.g. Raby Bay, Toondah Harbour)
• Port development (e.g Wavebreak Island cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast)
• Mangrove incursion
• Feral plants and animals
Human disturbance – recreation
• Dogs off leash
• Beach traffic (4WDs)
• Bait harvesting (birds vs humans)
• Kite surfing (birds mistake kites for predators such as hawks)
In short, it all comes down to competition between humans and the birds – and its we humans who are winning unless we become more mindful of the other animals with which we share our world.
Since 1993 Moreton Bay has been named as an important Ramsar Wetland for wading birds and their habitat is designated by the blue sections of our bay. But we cannot consider our bay in isolation because it forms an integral part of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. Waders that live in Moreton Bay fly as far afield as Russia and Alaska to breed before returning home to Moreton Bay – distances of up to 17,000km to and from their breeding grounds!