Life could be a Dream

Dream Island, off the coast of McLoughlins Beach in South Gippsland, is a dream for local nesting shorebirds and migratory waders.

The long thin island is only just isolated from the mainland and at low tide, historically foxes have swum across and wreaked havoc among nests.

Thanks to Federal Government funding through West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Corner Inlet Connections project, Parks Victoria has been working with traditional owners from the Gunaikurnai to make a safer environment for these vulnerable birds.

According to WGCMA’s Water Program Coordinator, Tracey Jones, Dream Island is close to being just that for local and migratory shore birds.

“Dream Island provides a near perfect habitat for shore birds,” explained Tracey.

“It is difficult to get to and tends not to be visited much by people, so it doesn’t have the same population threats that other areas experience such as dogs and beach goers.

“Many of these birds are notoriously shy and easy to spook and one, the Hooded Plover, is down to about 600 individuals in Victoria.”

However the one threat that still remains is the fox.

Jonathan Stevenson, Ranger with Parks Victoria has worked baiting on Dream Island on and off for 20 years.

“We know we can make Dream Island fox free,” said Jonathan.

“It’s such a perfect habitat for shorebirds and if the threat of fox attack was removed it could be even better.

“Dream Island forms part of Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park which is an important feeding, nesting, resting and breeding area for thousands of waterbirds.

“It’s also one of the most important areas in Victoria for resident and migratory shorebirds.

“We believe there are only a couple of foxes left on Dream Island and we’re trying to eradicate them through baiting. We’ve done it before and had good success, keeping the island fox free for over five tears.

“It’s devastating to see fox prints near empty nests here on Dream Island because it’s such an important environment.”

Jonathan has been working with the Natural Resource Management Team from the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) to place baits along the length of the Island.

GLaWAC staff member, Corey Jack, said the team enjoyed being part of the project.

“It’s been great working with Parks Victoria to do the baiting,” explained Corey.

“We use fat bikes to ride the length of Island, checking the GPS coordinates and removing old baits and placing new ones.”

The Corner Inlet area provided a varied and abundant range of wildlife, bushfoods and medicines as well as a variety of coastal foods that were gathered to sustain the lifestyles of the traditional owners.

For more information about the Corner Inlet Connections project please visit www.wgcma.vic.gov.au.

This project is funded through the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.