At Carbon Positive Australia, we are passionate about biodiversity and inspired by those who work tirelessly to protect it. Few are more inspiring than Claire Greenwell, a conservation biologist and ornithologist who has spent years exploring the history, behaviour, and ecology of the fascinating Fairy Tern. While these birds are fascinating, Claire’s story is simply captivating.
Read on to find out more.
From birding to biology
Claire has always held a strong interest in birds and calls herself a birder (or more commonly known as a birdwatcher). Before she landed where she is today, she was working in the business industry and began volunteering at a wildlife shelter. It was here she began working with birds and assisting in their rehabilitation. For Claire it opened her eyes to the different that one person can make and in turn pushed her to take action on her childhood dream of becoming a conversation biologist.
Fast forward to the fairy terns
Claire recently completed her PhD studying the Australian Fairy Tern (Sternula nereis nereis). Her research delved into the details of their intimate lives, including their movements, natural history, behaviour, and feeding ecology.
The study aimed to investigate the behaviour of the Fairy Terns from their arrival in South Western Australia to their migration to wintering grounds, as well as the threats faced by these birds.
Fairy Terns are listed as “vulnerable” in Western Australia under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). Threats to Fairy Tern nesting include human disturbances, such as trampling and noise, extreme weather events like storms, and predation by animals such as cats, dogs, and foxes. It is estimated that there are fewer than 3,000 breeding pairs of Fairy Terns in Western Australia.
If you want to help these birds as an individual and learn about citizen science (an amazing program where you can make a difference to biodiversity) check out our podcast with Claire on Apple or Spotify.