The first eggs of the season have been laid by endangered pied oystercatchers at Harrington Beach and Farquhar Inlet, and endangered little terns are expected to start nesting soon, prompting an appeal for the community's help in protecting beach-nesting birds over summer.
These species lay well-camouflaged eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand.
"The beaches around the Manning River outlets are the most important breeding sites for little terns in NSW, normally producing up to a quarter of all fledglings in the state," said Katherine Howard, senior project officer for the Saving Our Species program.
Recent years have been tough on these birds, Katherine said.
"Over two seasons at the Manning beaches, only one little tern chick survived to adulthood due to 4WDs, foxes and domestic dogs.
"Happily, last year, the community's willingness to 'share the shore' with wildlife enabled little terns to successfully raise 65 chicks - a real cause for celebration."
MidCoast Council's natural systems manager Gerard Tuckerman said flocks of little terns begin to arrive on NSW beaches to breed around September. "Pied oystercatchers may be resident all year round and tend to start nesting in August," he said.
"Eggs and chicks are vulnerable to 4WDs, foxes, domestic dogs and even beach walkers, who may crush the almost-invisible eggs or disturb parent birds and keep them away from the nest, leaving eggs vulnerable to predation or overheating in the sun.
"We are appealing to the community to keep your dogs out of fenced nesting areas and other dog exclusion zones, and reminding drivers to obey the rules of their beach driving permit which stipulates only driving between the high and low tide marks.
"We are hugely grateful to beach users for observing fences and signs installed to protect nesting birds over summer, and look forward on building on last year's success."
NPWS, MidCoast Council and the Saving our Species program are urging beach users to "share the shore" with beach-nesting birds by following these simple tips:
- Don't walk or drive through fenced off areas, and look out for signs warning of unfenced nesting sites
- Drive only on designated 4WD beaches, with a permit, and stay between the high and low tide marks
- To protect both pets and native wildlife, walk dogs on leashes, keep them out of fenced areas and other dog exclusion zones, and away from 1080 baited sites as indicated by red and white signs
- Keep our beaches clean - shorebirds can get tangled in fishing line or mistake plastic for food.
To find out more visit midcoast.nsw.gov.au/ShareTheShore or stop by the Shorebirds stall at the Old Bar Kombi Festival on Saturday, October 5.
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