Little terns and pied oystercatchers are extremely vulnerable

Little tern chicks. Photo NPWS
Little tern chicks. Photo NPWS

Following last year’s devastating breeding results for endangered shorebirds, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is urging people to protect nesting sites on beaches around Manning River.

NPWS ranger Michael Thomas said little terns and pied oystercatchers make nests directly on the sand’s surface, which makes them extremely vulnerable to attack from native and domestic animals and human disturbances.

“Out of 112 little tern eggs laid last season, only one chick hatched and sadly didn’t survive,” Mr Thomas said.

Out of 112 little tern eggs laid last season, only one chick hatched and sadly didn’t survive.

National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Michael Thomas

“Foxes took 66 eggs over two nights, 4WDs ran over 37 eggs and domestic dogs destroyed eight,” he said.  

The spectacular shorebirds migrate from as far as Asia every year and the community is urged to share their favourite beaches to give this year’s chicks the best chance to survive.

“Beaches around Manning River, particularly Old Bar Beach, Farquhar Inlet, Manning Point and the northern side of the Manning River at Harrington sand spit, are importantbreeding territory to many pairs of endangered shorebirds,” Mr Thomas said.    

“We need beachgoers to avoid the fenced-off areas, which help protect the vulnerable ground nests, pet owners to respect the no dog areas and follow beach driving permit conditions.

Little tern eggs. Photo NPWS

Little tern eggs. Photo NPWS

“With fewer than 200 pied oystercatcher breeding pairs estimated to occur along the NSW coastline, we rely on the efforts of many individuals and groups to help keep the eggs of this endangered species safe during the five weeks it takes for them to hatch into fledglings. 

“While last year’s results were devastating, they are uncommon. Breeding season results have overall been positive, with around 100 little terns fledging over the duration of the program,” Mr Thomas said.  

A pied oystercatcher conservation effort is conducted year-round by the Mates of the Manning and dedicated volunteers will be monitoring every nest and providing protection to the eggs and chicks.   

The Shorebird Recovery Program, managed by NPWS, is one of many conservation projects under the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program and aims to reduce the rate of decline of threatened shorebirds and monitor and protect nesting sites.

Saving our Species is an innovative state-wide program that addresses the growing number of plants and animals in NSW facing extinction.

Visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website for more information about Pied Oystercatchers and Little Terns.