Sand Island Stopover project protecting shorebirds in the Noosa River estuary

Preserving critical habitat for shorebirds in the Noosa River estuary is the focus of an important local project, after long-term monitoring revealed a concerning 45% decline in the abundance of migratory shorebirds.

A report consolidating the results of surveys conducted by Noosa Integrated Catchment Association (NICA) volunteers over the last 14 years was delivered earlier this year. The report identified 59 bird species using the estuary. Of the 27 species of shorebirds observed, 18 species are migratory (travelling tens of thousands of kilometres each year) and eight species are listed as threatened, three of which are critically endangered.

Pied Oystercatcher nest with eggs


Migratory shorebirds need food and rest during their time in Australia to sustain their extensive international travels, and NICA is putting their research into action to help shorebirds through an exciting 12-month Sand Island Stopover project to eliminate invasive weed species and rehabilitate Sand Island and adjacent areas in the Noosa River estuary and reduce disturbance to shorebirds.

The Noosa Integrated Catchment Association’s Sand Island Stopover project is supported by Healthy Land and Water’s 2020 Community NRM Activity Support Grant Program and Noosa Council.

NICA volunteers have contributed an amazing 235 hours to the project in the four months since it started, and activities will continue until June 2021.


Highlights to date include:

Weed removal

  • Over 40 bags of weeds removed – targeting corky passion vine, gloriosa lilly, cobblers peg and asparagus fern on the high dunes, and spot outbreaks of European sea lettuce and flaxleaf fleabane on foreshore areas
  • Volunteers are now beginning to target weed re-growth.

Monitoring shorebird response

  • Ongoing surveys of shorebirds in the estuary to monitor how the birds are responding to efforts.
  • A lone Kentish Plover, a rare vagrant to the region, was sighted on several occasions.
  • Additional shorebird foraging habitat along the northern side of Lake Weyba identified.

Raising awareness of shorebirds

  • NICA’s shorebird report was distributed and well received.
  • Signage reinstated by Noosa Council around the island to help raise awareness of shorebirds and deter visitors disturbing their nests.

This project is supported by Healthy Land and Water, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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