Prawn Rock Channel Bird Sanctuary
Djerrt Mia Bird Sanctuary (“Bird Home”) Wilson Inlet, Denmark
Background: A bird sanctuary is defined as an area of land where birds are protected and encouraged to breed.
The concept for a bird protection sanctuary within the Prawn Rock Channel area of Wilson Inlet was first proposed to the Shire of Denmark by the Denmark Bird Group in 2018. Shire Officers then reviewed the concept plan over a period of time, finalising their review and assessment after consultation with key stake holders in late 2021. The Officer recommendation was then listed as an agenda item for the Shire Council Meeting on 15 March 2022. Council endorsed the proposal subject to amendments and subject to the Shire advertising the proposal for the bird sanctuary development for public comment. An amended proposal by the Shire Officer was then listed as an agenda item for the Council Meeting on 21 June, when Council adopted the proposal, subject to final amendments.
On 14 July 2022 the bird sanctuary was officially declared. The indigenous naming of the sanctuary was approved by the Wagyl Kaip Aboriginal Corporation and endorsed by the Shire and the Denmark Bird Group in January 2023.
There have been compromises by all users of the Prawn Rock Channel area and it is hoped that everyone can utilise the area in harmony with the new bird sanctuary.
The Djerrt Mia Bird Sanctuary is a Shire of Denmark project. The Denmark Bird Group assists the Shire with the management of the sanctuary and provides input as and when required and is responsible for erecting temporary seasonal protection fencing.
The map below illustrates the area of the Bird Sanctuary, together with the pathways across the island and the proposed central pathway into the Bird Sanctuary.
Sanctuary compliance: The bird sanctuary incorporates the northern section of Prawn Rock Island and the adjacent areas north of the island towards Tern Island and east towards the Nullaki Peninsula.
Public access in to the island area of the sanctuary is restricted until a designated central path and observation areas have been constructed.
To prevent damage to the fragile vegetation and topography, public access around the perimeter of the island and along the east beach of the island is not permitted. Once the water level of the inlet reduces to expose sand and mud flats, access on to these exposed areas is not permitted. Shorebirds and “bush” birds utilise the east beach all year whilst shorebirds including migratory birds arriving in Denmark during the Northern Arctic Winter depend upon the sand and mud flats and shallow water areas for their food source. Pied Oystercatchers, Red-capped Plovers and Hooded Plovers nest and raise their young here.
Infrastructure: February 2023 the Shire contracted to have a permanent fence installed along the southern boundary of the island. Funding is now being arranged to enable the next stage of infrastructure, which will incorporate a dedicated central path from the gate towards the north end of the island and two elevated observation platforms.
An interpretive educational bird hide will be considered in the future.
Djerrt Mia Bird Sanctuary informative signage is being designed and will be installed soon.
The Djerrt Mia Bird Sanctuary provides protection for local and migratory birds utilising this beautiful but fragile section of Denmark’s natural environment. This project has been made possible by the Shire Officers and the Denmark Shire Councillors who had the vision to preserve this important area for the enjoyment and benefit of the Denmark Community, visitors and for future generations and of course for the protection of the birds, many of which are endangered or critically endangered.
"Sanctuary" A Poem by Andrew Dickinson
Dark water from the rivers that have flowed across the land, meet the water of the ocean at a place of shifting sand.
Wind-swept from all direction, washed by rain and flooding tide. White sand reflects the suns bright glare as the seasons cycle by.
And the birds that come for refuge have traveled near and far – to raise their young, to feed a while, or rest up at the bar.
Great spans of time have come and passed since their first arrival. And through that time this place had been – a scene of shared survival.
When Man and Bird did co-exist, respectful of the other. Then from this dream the birds awoke – to find there was another.
With change the only constant, so black skin gave way to white. Respect became indifference, now people exercised their rights.
The birds were under pressure, recreation now the threat. Some people saw that this was wrong, vowed these birds they would protect.
In time they came to know these birds and how they used this place. They gathered information, which then helped them to build their case.
They campaigned long and hard, their actions spoke louder than words. With courage and strength they secured – a sanctuary for the birds.
Shorebirds including Pied Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plovers nest along the Island shoreline.
Our Migratory Shorebirds travel immense distances from their Arctic breeding grounds, sometimes in excess of 12,000km so that they can rest, recuperate and prepare themselves for the return journey. Their numbers have been falling at a rate of 10% per annum as a result of industrial development depriving them of feeding grounds in the Yellow Sea, rapid changes in the Arctic environment and more extreme weather.
There are many other bird species that use the shallow waters at the mouth of the Wilson Inlet or the habitat on the Island.