Mutton Cove is identified in the Commonwealth Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) as an important migratory bird habitat.
Migratory birds fly from near the Arctic Circle to escape the harsh northern winter and feed in the saltwater wetlands surrounding the Barker Inlet.
Long distance migratory birds seen within Mutton Cove include the red-necked stint, curlew sandpiper, sharp-tailed sandpiper, bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit, Latham’s snipe, pacific golden plover, marsh sandpipers and greenshanks. The migration path of these birds is protected under international treaties.
Migratory birds need concentrated food supplies, if they are to develop large enough fat reserves to allow them to fly back to their northern homes. The mud flats of estuarine areas like Mutton Cove contain a huge variety and number of the small marine animals used by various shorebirds as food.
Pages 45-46 of the Environmental Management Plan for Mutton Cove has an extensive historical list of sightings collected between 1974 and 1997.
Will they return to the Arctic or stay through our winter?