Posted on 12/04/2018 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Preparing for Shearwater departure
The annual short-tailed shearwater migration is due to begin in mid-April, 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.
“We expect most of the shearwater fledglings will depart sometime between April 18 and May 8,” said Jodi Bellett, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation officer at Phillip Island Nature Parks. “During that 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 a dedicated band of 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,” said Jodi.
“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.”
“We hope that with the support of VicRoads and the local community, this year we will be able to reduce the number of bird deaths even further, as well as reduce the risk to drivers on our roads at night.”
About short tailed shearwaters:
Short-tailed shearwaters arrive on Phillip Island in September and spend the summer raising their single chick in a sand dune burrow. They undertake one of the most incredible migrations, flying approx. 16,000km to feed near Alaska during our winter. Adults begin their migration in early-April, the fledglings leave about three weeks later with no guidance. Many of these birds are killed each year on the roads at night. Shearwater Rescue is an initiative to reduce these deaths.
Roland Pick – Communications Executive
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