Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) is calling on visitors local estuaries to watch out for threatened shorebirds, with new signs installed across the region highlighting key feeding and nesting sites as part of a major tracking and protection program.
"We've worked with MidCoast Council, Port Stephens Council and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to install 15 shorebird identification signs at key visitor locations across the region," Reegan Walker, senior project officer with Hunter LLS, said.
"The signs provide images of different shorebird species and information detailing their long journey back to the Arctic to breed," said Mr Walker.
Signs are located in the Manning estuary (two Old Bar, one at Manning Point and one at Harrington) and at Hawks Nest (two at boat ramps, one at Jimmy's Beach and one at Surf Life Saving Club).
Funded by the Australian Government's National Landcare Program, the project is identifying threats to shorebirds and developing strategies to protect them including research, habitat restoration and community engagement.
Shorebirds, also known as waders, are a group of long-legged birds that live on the fringes of lakes, estuaries and coastlines feeding on worms and crustaceans.
Mr Walker said many people don't realise there are so many threatened shorebird species in the region.
"There are five threatened shorebirds species that travel to the estuaries every year from their Arctic breeding grounds."
"Incredibly, researchers have recorded non-stop flights of around 9000km during these journeys."
The project is funding the installation of a large-scale radio tracking system to provide highly accurate 24-hour information detailing shorebird movements within each estuary - the first such system in Australia.
"Migratory shorebirds come here with one key objective: to gain enough weight to sustain them on their long flight back to their breeding ground. They must eat as much as possible, and when not eating, they must rest to conserve their energy," Mr Walker said.
"We are working with the University of Newcastle to find out exactly where these birds are feeding and resting, so we can ensure those sites are properly managed."
Hunter Local Land Services and partner organisations are asking recreational visitors to the Mid Coast, Port Stephens and Hunter estuary areas to look out for shorebirds either feeding or resting, and to give them a wide berth to avoid disturbing them from these crucial activities.
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