Every year beaches and inlets across the Great Lakes become a refuge for some special international fly-in visitors.
Arriving from as far away as Japan and Russia, migratory shorebirds annually make their way to the region to nest and feed.
With nesting season now underway, signage and fencing has been installed for their protection, survival and breeding success.
Although they are not subject to travel restrictions, these visitors rely on long isolation periods to survive, and need to maintain distance from other beach users.
"We are urging all human beach visitors, especially beach vehicle drivers and those with dogs, to tread carefully, stay out of fenced nesting areas and obey signage so that the well-camouflaged nests and eggs of these amazing shorebirds can survive," MidCoast Council sustainability and natural assets co-ordinator, Tanya Cross said.
Some beaches in Hawkes Nest and the Manning become home to these shorebirds, including endangered little terns, pied oystercatchers and beach stone-curlews, which make the long journey every year to breed and forage.
The birds nest on our beaches in summer, with extremely well-camouflaged eggs and chicks on sand nests being almost invisible.
The beaches on the MidCoast Council are one of the most important breeding site for little terns in NSW, normally producing up to a quarter of all fledglings in the State.Tanya Cross
Eggs and chicks rely solely on camouflage for protection residing in clear open patches of sand.
This makes them vulnerable to 4WDs, foxes, domestic dogs and even beach walkers, who may crush the eggs or continually disturb parent birds and keep them away from the nest, leaving eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation from dogs and seagulls.
Those driving on beaches must avoid fenced-off areas and drive below the high tide water mark along beaches.
Domestic dogs chasing nesting shore birds off their eggs is another major contributor to shorebird decline.
"The beaches on the MidCoast Council are one of the most important breeding site for little terns in NSW, normally producing up to a quarter of all fledglings in the State," Ms Cross said.
To protect the eggs and chicks a multi-agency working group has been established consisting of representatives from MidCoast Council, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Crown Lands, Hunter Local Land Services, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Taree Indigenous Development and Employment, bird watching groups and essential local volunteers.
This group has been busy stepping up efforts in recent breeding seasons to control wild dogs and foxes, install education signage and construct temporary fencing to protect shorebird nesting sites.
"By working together these efforts have seen many shorebird chicks reach adulthood in the past and we hope for even greater success this year."
Fox baiting is another measure undertaken to protect the shorebirds, with signage prominent to warn owners not to allow dogs inside the fenced areas.
For more information on the unique habitat of these endangered shorebirds, and how you can share the shore, visit the MidCoast Council share the shore page.
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