Media Releases 2015

Posted on 12/01/2015 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Holidaymakers from across the state are not the only ones flocking to Phillip Island’s shores this summer, as thousands of migratory birds set up camp around Phillip Island’s Rhyll Inlet.

The shorebirds have completed one of the world’s greatest migrations, flying thousands of kilometres south along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway from their food-rich Arctic breeding grounds. The birds arrive between October and December with severely depleted energy reserves. Western Port’s tidal mudflats provide a welcome and much-needed feeding ground before the shorebirds begin their non-stop journey back to the Arctic between March and April.

Dr Roz Jessop, Environment Manager at Phillip Island Nature Parks, explained: “Rhyll Inlet is a declared Ramsar wetland of international significance and eastern curlews, bar-tailed godwits, red-capped plovers and red-necked stints can often be seen feeding on the tidal mudflats or resting on high-tide shorelines.”

Australasian Shorebird Conference
At September’s Australasian Shorebird Conference in Darwin, scientists warned that many of the migratory shorebirds are disappearing by the tens of thousands. The declines are attributed to increasing habitat loss, particularly in the northern hemisphere around the Yellow Sea where the birds ‘layover’ to refuel along the long migration route.

Eastern curlew numbers are reported to have collapsed by 75 per cent in Tasmania, the southern end of the flyway. The dramatic decrease may push eastern curlews onto the Australian threatened species list. 

“The alarming reports of shorebird population declines filtering in from around the world highlight the importance of places like Rhyll Inlet as critical habitat refuges.

“We’re very fortunate to have these special shorebird conservation areas within our own backyard and to be able to welcome these migratory birds given the challenges they’re facing elsewhere in Australia or the world,” Dr Jessop said. 

Walks through Rhyll Inlet afford excellent views of the birds and wetlands, and new interpretive signage is scheduled for installation in the coming months. Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars and a bird book, and to remain on designated pathways and observe local dog regulations to ensure the best chance of not disturbing the birds.

Find out more about Rhyll Inlet at http://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/recreational-areas or join an Island Bird Tour with a ranger from Phillip Island Nature Parks - Ph: 5951 2800.