THE survival chances of endangered shorebirds at Farquar Inlet near Old Bar are being crushed by vandals.
Shorebird warden for the Manning Entrance Endangered Shorebird program Jeremy Smith has worked for seven years monitoring the breeding patterns of the Pied Oystercatcher, Beach Stone-curlew and Little Tern at the inlet.
Jeremy said this breeding season “hasn’t been too successful” for a number of reasons.
Despite islands where the birds are nesting and laying their eggs being fenced off individuals are removing fences, tearing down signs and even using the signs for firewood.
On top of this - pets are also a problem.
“We had two Pied Oystercatcher chicks hatch on a fenced off island,” Jeremy said.
“When the chicks were about two weeks old and still very vulnerable, someone came and let the fence down and tracks show dogs were on the island. Unfortunately the dogs ate the chicks.”
Jeremy said this sort of behaviour “was really disappointing”.
“The birds are endangered for various reasons. There are problems we have every year – some we can deal with, some we can’t deal with. Something we can try to do is stop the disturbances from people,” he said.
Jeremy wants to educate the community on the importance of adhering to the signs and fences that are in place.
“We’re not saying don’t come down here, we’re just saying use some of the many other islands and stay clear of islands with signs and fences.”
A flat stretch on the Farquar Inlet is a common place for Little Terns to nest and lay their eggs.
“The nest is very exposed and very vulnerable to the elements and quite difficult to see – one of the reasons we have the fence up is so the eggs don’t get stepped on,” Jeremy said.
“In the past we’ve had anywhere between 70 and 90 eggs and a good success rate of chicks hatching and growing up. This year we’re only looking at around 50 eggs and we’ve already lost a few to foxes.”
Jeremy said not only are these birds endangered but the Manning Entrance was the most significant breeding site for the little terns in Australia, due to its high breeding population.
Jeremy explained as migratory birds, they travel to Asia before coming back to breed in the next season.
“It is a very significant site and if something drastic happens it impacts on the population as a whole.”
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