The article ‘Sampling the Port’ in the January 29 edition derives from a January 21 media release by the State Minister for Ports, with the title ‘Summer environmental sampling underway for Port of Hastings development’.
Both the article and the media release tout searches for ‘water birds’ as somehow ameliorating the obvious adverse impacts of the port expansion proposal advocated by the government.
For the benefit of Minister Mr Hodgett, the avifauna of Western Port comprises shore birds, sea birds, visiting pelagic species, migratory birds and vagrant bird species, in addition to ‘water birds’.
Further, Hooded Plovers are known to have fledged from Western Port beaches and flown to areas well beyond the bay catchment.
The above varied species utilise the habitats in Western Port for roosting, breeding and feeding at differing times of the year – not just over summer, and their populations fluctuate year to year.
This most recent state financed summer count for ‘water birds’ has started late (halfway through summer) and I doubt we can have much confidence in the results considering that geotechnical test drilling and geophysical testing is going on in Western Port at the same time, with the resulting disturbance to avifauna.
Maurice Schinkel, Cowes.