Trail through protected bird habitat

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Mike Lawrie saw this rainbow bee eater at Waggrakine in January
Camera IconMike Lawrie saw this rainbow bee eater at Waggrakine in January Credit: Pictures: Mike Lawrie, Mike Lawrie

Recent earthworks at Chapman River Regional Park may have disturbed habitat where 10 ground-nesting rainbow bee eater birds were observed last year, a local ecologist says.

“They are a protected species and protected by international migratory agreements and due care should be taken to avoid disturbing them through earthworks and tracks,” Dr Indre Asmussen said.

“The City of Greater Geraldton recently realigned an access track in the Chapman River Regional Park which may have moved Rainbow bee-eaters from a site they used for breeding in 2017.”

Dr Asmussen, who trades as Geraldton Environmental Consultancy, said she was disappointed the City completed earthworks within the Chapman River Regional Park during the presence of the rainbow bee eaters.

“It is disappointing that no survey was completed at the work site prior to earthworks after the birds had returned for their breeding season, given that local capacity exists,” she said.

CGG chief executive Ross McKim said this was not the case.

“The City undertook an Environmental Impact Study of the existing mountain bike trail during the development of the Chapman River Regional Park Mountain Bike Master Plan,” he said.

A 15m wide corridor, running the entire length of the 11km long loop trail, was surveyed for Cryptogamic soil crust, native flora and rainbow bee eater breeding habitats.”

Mr McKim said the study determined that the existing mountain bike trail could be maintained without realignment, ensuring significant flora and fauna habitat conservation, and allow “informally created trails” to be closed and rehabilitated.

“The survey did identify a potential breeding site,” he said.

“However this site was not disturbed during the formalisation of the mountain bike loop trail in which works were undertaken during the winter months and completed on July 25, 2018.

“During this time, the rainbow bee eaters that breed in Geraldton were over-wintering in the north.”

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