Fremantle Ports and Fairy Terns

Fairy tern with chick eating fish at the Rous Head sanctuary

A breeding sanctuary created by Fremantle Ports to give a helping hand to fairy terns has proved highly attractive to these vulnerable little birds.

An estimated 70 pairs began arriving at the fenced site at Rous Head in late November.

With attentive and protective parenting to help them along, some of the chicks are already fully fledged although still dependent on parental care and feeding. Fremantle Ports is monitoring the colony’s progress and recording the information to assist with recovery planning for the species.

In advance of the breeding season, Fremantle Ports set aside about 3400 square metres at the northern end of Rous Head to create the fairy tern nesting sanctuary.

Fremantle Ports Acting Chief Executive Officer, Captain Allan Gray said that to provide the best chance for a successful colony to establish, the sanctuary had been designed to protect the fairy terns from disturbance by elevating the site away from port activities.

“The site has been positioned with open views to the ocean and covered with a shelly sand layer, providing the conditions favoured by fairy terns to make their scrape (nest),” he said.

“The aim has been to establish a viable habitat for the fairy terns that can be managed and sustained into the future.

“To help achieve this outcome, Fremantle Ports has separately consulted with the Australian Department of the Environment, the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife, WA Museum, BirdLife Australia and local community stakeholders.

“Advice received has been helpful and appreciated,” Captain Gray said.

To further encourage the fairy terns to nest on the site, Fremantle Ports commissioned the production of some realistic scale models of the birds. These were made at O’Connor by a local moulding firm, painted at the Fremantle Men’s Shed and positioned within the sanctuary.