Airport Shepherds
Taken from ’The Drongo’ No 94, January 2008

TRBOC is a member of the Townsville Airport Bird Management Committee and each quarter we meet with representatives of the Australian Airports, Australian Defence Force and the main Airlines operating from Townsville to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of bird strikes. A quarterly Bird Strike Report is compiled detailing the number of strikes, the bird species involved and unfortunately, the birds culled during the period. There are strict guidelines and procedures in place before a bird can be culled, but birds are lost each period.

As a bird watcher, these meetings can be quite disturbing and while I fully understand our first priority is for the safety of the aircraft and passengers, each month birds are culled.

During the last meeting however, the ADF were very pleased with themselves! They had encountered 2 adult Brolga guarding their chick on the side of the main runway. The adults could not be shifted using the usual bird scaring methods, so, with additional help from the Airport Authority and QPWS a team of beaters herded the birds along the runway towards an opened emergency gate in the perimeter fence. The birds were slowly shepherded out of the gate into the neighbouring paddock; leaving the runway clear for the planes. The muster team were all very pleased with themselves until the two adults returned to the runway the next day. However this time, they responded to the bird scarers and flew back across the fence to re-join their chick.

It was so pleasing to receive this report; knowing there are 3 Brolga feeding safely on the Common rather than being just another statistic in the Bird Strike Report.

George Baker.
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