Every year more than 20 species of migratory waterbirds visit the Gippsland Lakes as part of their breeding and lifecycle.
Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee co-chair, Angus Hume, said waterbird abundance and diversity is one of the most important aspects of the Gippsland Lakes.
“These amazing migratory birds that visit the Gippsland Lakes are part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway,” explained Mr Hume. “Most of them migrate from breeding grounds in North east Asia and Alaska to Australia and New Zealand.
“They cover an amazing 10,000km to get here and then another 10,000 km to return back to their breeding grounds. They are covering this distance in a single year!
“The Gippsland Lakes provide an important feeding and resting place for these migratory birds. They rely on a healthy Gippsland Lakes system for their survival.”
The most popular areas of the Gippsland Lakes for waterbirds are the fringing wetlands of Dowd Morass, Heart Morass and Sale Common as well as the salt marshes and saline wetlands such as Lake Reeve.
“Migratory birds that enjoy the Lakes during the summer include the snipe, sandpipers and terns. Coming into winter we can expect to see the cattle egret and double banded dotterel,” continued Mr Hume
“Populations of many migratory wader species are in decline worldwide, primarily through loss of habitat in breeding and staging areas outside Australia.
“This makes them more vulnerable while in Australia and increases the importance of doing everything in our power to maintain habitat and conditions at winter sites.
“Residents and visitors to the Gippsland Lakes need to work together to help protect and conserve these important species.
“World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the amazing journey many migratory birds take.”
WMBD was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.