Posted on 12/04/2018 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Preparing for shearwater departure
The annual short-tailed shearwater migration is due to begin next week, and this year Phillip Island Nature Parks has joined forces with VicRoads to increase the chicks’ chances of successfully departing the island, and to increase the awareness of motorists to potentially hazardous driving conditions.
Most of the shearwater fledglings are expected to depart sometime between April 18 and May 8, during which time birds may end up on the roads at night as they learn to fly, and of course this can cause a hazard to not only the birds but to drivers as well.
VicRoads and the Nature Parks’ team have been working closely together over the last few months to implement several road safety initiatives including lowering speed limits on affected roads to 40km/h and placing electronic message boards and billboards on roadsides to let motorists know that there may be shearwaters on the roads. The birds are known to flock to the San Remo bridge lights, so in conjunction with SP Ausnet, the bridge lights will be switched off as in previous years for up to 8-10 nights around April 25 during the peak of departure.
Nature Parks’ staff and volunteers will be patrolling areas where the birds are likely to land on roads, particularly around Surf Beach, Cape Woolamai and near the Penguin Parade, so we would ask that you take extra care on the roads in these areas.
Since the inception of the Shearwater Rescue Patrol in 1999, thousands of birds have been saved from the roads as they learn to fly. Last year alone, a total of 532 birds were struck by cars and died, but we also managed to rescue 534 birds, and this year we hope to increase that rescue number even more.