Cape York Peninsula Land Use Strategy
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Cape York Peninsula Land Use Strategy
Abrahams, H., Mulvaney, M., Glasco, D., & Bugg, A.
Office of the Co-ordinator General of Queensland
Australian Heritage Commission, March 1995
Areas of significance for seabirds and shorebirds are considered under sub-criterion A2, significant as breeding and feeding areas, sub-criterion A3, areas of particular species or population richness and in some instances under sub-criterion B1 for rare, endangered or threatened species.
The importance of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef area, adjoining the CYPLUS study area, was determined by King (1993) on the absolute size of seabird colonies, the relative importance of an island within its local area, and the relative abundance of the species they contain. Additionally the Department of Environment and Heritage Data-base of Seabird records (DEH 1994) within the Northern Great Barrier Reef Region was interrogated to provide information on additional sites of significance.
The northern Great Barrier Reef area contains many islands that support breeding and roosting sea-bird populations. Some of these populations are amongst the largest in Queensland and a few are amongst the largest nationally. The northern Great Barrier Reef area, together with Horn Island, is of international significance for seven shorebird species and of national significance for a further three (Watkins 1993).
Major seabird breeding areas within Queensland have been identified by King (1993) and from the DEH fauna database (DEH 1994). Major seabird breeding islands that occur within or in close vicinity to the CYPLUS study area are detailed below in Table 11.1. Major seabird roosting and feeding sites are given in Table 11.2. Islands of significance to seabirds are shown in Figure 11.1.
ISLAND SIGNIFICANCE Cholmondeley Island The Island supports some of the largest breeding populations in Queensland of the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana) and Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis). Wallace Islet The Islet supports the largest known breeding populations in Australia of the Roseate Tern and one of the largest breeding populations in Queensland of the Crested Tern (Sterna bergii). Saunders Island The Island supports a regionally large breeding population of the Crested Tern. Magra Island The Island supports a regionally large breeding population of the Roseate Tern. North Bird Island The Island supports one of the largest breeding and roosting populations of the Black Noddy (Anous minutus) in Queensland. Piper Group The Group supports one of the largest breeding and roosting populations of the Black Noddy in Queensland. Chapman Island The Island supports one of the largest breeding and roosting populations of the Black Noddy in Queensland, and one of the largest breeding colonies of the Crested Tern. Sherrard Island The Island supports regionally significant breeding populations of the Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus), Lesser Crested Tern and Black Noddy. Fife Island The Island supports regionally significant breeding populations of the Bridled Tern and Crested Tern and large roosting populations of the Common Noddy (Anous stolidus) and Black Noddy. Pelican Island The Island supports the largest known breeding colony in Australia of the Lesser Crested Tern, and one of the largest breeding populations of the Bridled Tern in Queensland. The Island is also one of the few regional breeding sites of the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus). In November 1993, 180 non-breeding adults of the Eastern Curlew(Numenius madagascariensis) were recorded on the Island. The Eastern Curlew is considered to be a rare species in Queensland. Stainer Island The Island supports some of the largest breeding populations of the Lesser Crested Tern in Queensland and is one of the few regional breeding sites of the Australian Pelican. Stapleton Islet The Islet supports one of the largest breeding populations of the Brown Booby(Sula leucogaster) and the Common Noddy in Queensland and is one of the few regional breeding sites of the Australian Pelican. The Islet also supports large roosting populations of the Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata), Bridled Tern, Crested Tern, and Black Noddy. Combe Islet The Islet supports regionally significant breeding populations of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus), and Sooty Tern. It also supports large roosting populations of the Black Noddy and Common Noddy. Eagle Islet The Islet supports some of the largest breeding populations of the Crested Tern and Lesser Crested Tern in Queensland. Rocky Islets The Islets supports one of the largest breeding populations of the Bridled Tern in Queensland. It also supports large roosting populations of the Common Noddy, Black Noddy and Sooty Tern.Table 11.2 Further Significant Seabird Roosting and Feeding Sites
Tern Island Tern Island supports a regionally large roosting population of the Bridled Tern. Douglas Island The Island supports a regionally large roosting population of the Black Noddy. The Island is a minor seabird breeding site. Jardine Islet The Islet supports a regionally large roosting population of the Lesser Crested Tern. The Islet is a minor seabird breeding locality. Bushy Islet Bushy Islet supports a regionally large roosting population of the Roseate Tern. Three Islands The Islands support a regionally large (Island A) roosting population of the Bridled Tern. Sinclair Island In November 1993, 100 non-breeding adults of the nationally vulnerable Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) were recorded at Sinclair Island. Crab Island There is a large seasonal feeding aggregation of the Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), which feeds on the hatchlings of the Flatback Turtle. There is a peak of hatching mid-year.
In addition to those islands mentioned above, the following are of minor or local significance as seabird breeding areas: Little Boydong Cay; Sunday Island; Kay Island; Pippon Island; Ingram/Beenley Island; and the Howick Group.
In addition to the locations given above, significant mainland roosting and breeding locations of the nationally Endangered Little Tern are given in Figure 17.5. There is insufficient information to identify any other significant mainland sea-bird roosting or breeding sites.
The coastline of Cape York Peninsula is important for a number of shorebird species as resting or feeding points on their migration, or for nesting sites. Many of these species or their habitat are included in the China Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA) or the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA). In this section significant habitat areas for shore birds are identified.
Watkins (1993) has identified areas of significance for shorebirds using established criteria. Areas of international significance either support 20,000 or more shore birds or support 1% or more of the East Asian - Australian Flyway population. Areas of national significance are those where 10,000 or more birds have been recorded or where 1% or more of the individuals of the Australian population of a species or sub-species have been recorded.
Significant species and places of importance for their maintenance are outlined below and the locations are included on the rare and threatened species map Figure 17.3 following.
The near shore islands of the Northern Great Barrier Reef, the northern and eastern shores of Cape York Peninsula, together with the shores of the Torres Strait Islands are an area of international significance for the Beach Stone-curlew (Burhinus giganteus), as these areas support over 5% of estimated East Asian-Australian population. It is the only area in Australia that is recognised as being significant for this species. The species occurs singly or in small groups along the coastline and is likely to be more common on off-shore islands, and those parts of the mainland little disturbed by humans, pigs or cats (Watkins 1993, Driscoll 1994b).
The intertidal flats of the islands of the Northern Great Barrier Reef, particularly those of Boydong, MacArthur, Fife, Hannah, Pelican, and Stainer Islands, are an internationally significant habitat of the Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus) supporting nearly 10% of the East Asian - Australian flyway population. The area is the second most important habitat of this species in Australia after the Gulf of Carpentaria. The flats around Horn Island are also of international significance supporting an additional 2.5% of the East Asian - Australian flyway population of this species (Watkins 1993, DEH 1994). The Mongolian Plover is a migratory species that visits Australia and breeds in eastern Siberia. In Australia it lives on muddy and sandy shores usually in isolated flocks of up to 100 birds.
Horn Island is also of national significance as a habitat of the Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva), with greater than 1% of the Australian population being recorded there at the one time (Watkins 1993). They occur in their largest numbers in north-eastern Australia. Following breeding in Alaska, they arrive in Australia from August to October and begin to depart again in February.
The intertidal flats of the islands of the Northern Great Barrier Reef area, particularly those of Boydong, Hannibal (East), Macarthur, Morris, Pelican, and Stainer Islands and Pethebridge Islet (East) are an internationally significant habitat for the Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) supporting nearly 3% of the East Asian - Australian flyway population. The area is the third most important habitat of this species in Australia after Roebuck Bay (Western Australia) and King Island (Bass Strait) (Watkins 1993, DEH 1994). The Turnstone is a summer visitor to Australia although a proportion stays in Australia during winter (Blakers et al 1984). The Turnstone inhabits shores where stones or stony pavements are exposed and sandier shores where seaweed has accumulated (Blakers et al 1984).
The intertidal flats of the islands of the Northern Great Barrier Reef area, particularly those of Halfway Islet, Sinclair Islet, Boydong Island, Bushey Islets, MacArthur Islands, Morris Island, and Pelican Island are an internationally significant habitat of the Grey-tailed Tattler (Tringa brevips) supporting nearly 4% of the East Asian - Australian Flyway population. (Watkins 1993, DEH 1994). The Tattler, often associated with mangrove shores, occupies coastal mudflats and reefs and only rarely sandy shores (Blakers et al 1984).
The rocky and sandy shores of the northern Great Barrier Reef area and the adjoining coastline of Cape York Peninsula support over 1% of the total estimated global populations of both the Pied (Haematopus longiropstris) and Sooty (H. fuliginosus) Oystercatchers. A northern sub-species of the Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus opthalmicus is estimated to have a total population of only 1000 individuals, with the areas mentioned above being a particularly important habitat of this sub-species. The Pied favours the sandy beaches and the Sooty favours rocky coasts. The Pied particularly has had it distribution affected by disturbance from people on popular beaches (Blakers et al 1984).
The northern Great Barrier Reef area, particularly Macarthur Islands, Morris Island and Pelican Island, is a nationally significant habitat of the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) (Watkins 1993, DEH 1994). The Whimbrel is scarce in southern Australia, and in Queensland is seen in flocks of up to 50. The Whimbrel forages on tidal mudflats and roosts on rocky islets and coral cays (Blakers et al 1984).
The Torresian Imperial Pigeon has been recorded as nesting on 95 islands, but only six colonies exceed 10,000 pairs. Major nesting colonies within the CYPLUS study area occur at:
The Torresian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa), also known as the Torres Strait or Nutmeg Pigeon, is largely a migratory bird found in New Guinea, Indonesia and northern Australia. It reaches its greatest abundance in Australia in the central and northern Great Barrier Reef region, where tens of thousands of birds arrive from New Guinea in July or August and return in about February or March. The Torresian Imperial Pigeon breeds in Australia and its arrival coincides with the ripening of rainforest fruits on which it feeds. In Queensland, birds nest in large colonies on off-shore islands and fly each day to rainforest on the mainland to feed. Although a common species, the nesting behaviour of the pigeon makes it vulnerable to human disturbance. Visitors, clearance activity and shooters on nesting islands appear to have caused a marked decline in the southern colonies (some of which are beginning to recover) (Blakers et al 1984, Winter 1994). Nevertheless the most important nesting sites of the Torresian Imperial Pigeon are on the relatively remote islands off the east coast of the CYPLUS study area.