Floating islands support waterbird populations

Waterbirds on floating island at Waterbird Refuge
               Photo: Sydney Olympic Park

15 Aug 2012

Photo: Sydney Olympic Park

Two floating islands recently installed at the southern end of the Waterbird Refuge in Bicentennial Park have already been adopted by the abundant birdlife inhabiting this estuarine wetland.

Sydney Olympic Park Authority installed the islands to provide additional breeding sites for the local population of Black-winged Stilts. Isolated islands provide a safe refuge from predators such as foxes and cats, and a buffer from human disturbance. A floating design was chosen to keep the nest-sites safe from tidal inundation.

The islands were seeded with locally-collected saltmarsh to provide a vegetation surface for nesting and roosting. The vegetation, when grown, will also help to maintain the water quality of the wetland by taking up excess nutrients and heavy metals through the plant roots.

Seagulls and Black Swans were the first species to be sighted on the islands, followed by Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Black-winged Stilts and Red-necked Avocets. The islands will be monitored for signs of breeding activity in spring.

Sydney Olympic Park Authority actively manages the Waterbird Refuge, which is home for large numbers and species of birds, including migratory shorebirds protected under international intergovernmental agreements.

The purpose-built bird-hide at the northern end of the Waterbird Refuge provides visitors with uninterrupted views of this water body, and the adjacent pathway also provides views to the islands.

Habitat restoration and management works are an ongoing component of Sydney Olympic Park Authority’s park management.