Low Rocks and Sterna Island (Kimberley)

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
Low Rocks and Sterna island are two islands about 12 km apart in the Montesquieu Islands in Admiralty Gulf, Kimberley, Western Australia. Low Rocks is a 4 ha islet with low scrub and grass. Sterna island, about 14 km to the west, rises to 9 m and has about 4 ha vegetated, dominated by Triodia microstachya and Acacia tumida, and 2 ha of un-vegetated sandstone ledges, which are used by seabirds for breeding. Seabirds stopped breeding on Low Rocks in about 2000 and the terns appear to have relocated to Sterna Island, perhaps because the vegetation on Low Rocks had become too dense for terns to breed (Coate et al. 2004). Annual average rainfall ca 900 mm.

Key biodiversity
Sterna is also a breeding site for Crested Tern (about 2100 nests[?] in 2003) and Lesser Crested Tern (about 250 nests[?] in 2003). 700 Crested and 350 Lesser Crested Tern nests [?] were recorded on Low Rocks in 1997 (Coate et al. 2004). Pied Cormorant is thought to have relocated from Low Rocks to Oyster Rock.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The vegetation on both islands needs to be assessed for suitability for nesting Roseate Terns, and management options explored. Both need monitoring for exotic predators, especially rats. Sterna Island needs protection from human disturbance.

Protected areas
Low Rocks Nature Reserve

Land ownership
Low Rocks = WA State govt; Sterna Island = Unallocated Crown Land, claimed under Native Title. Management is the responsibility of Dept of Environment & Climate Change (DEC).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Low Rocks and Sterna Island (Kimberley). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/07/2020.