The MidCoast Council environmental team has praised members of the public for taking heed of its Share the Shore message following the end of the nesting season for local endangered shorebirds.
The MidCoast is fortunate to have migratory shorebirds make their way to local beaches annually to nest and feed but it's always a delicate process and one that requires understanding and collaboration from the community for a positive season.
After assessing the success of the season, while there are always some minor issues, generally council believes the Share the Shore message is working, MidCoast Council sustainability and natural assets co-ordinator, Tanya Cross said.
"This year we've really noticed our 4WD community abiding by the beach driving rules, there were no recorded breaches of the protective fence and as a result no known losses from nests being driven over," Ms Cross said.
Prime nesting beaches for the endangered birds include the Winda Woppa area as well as Farquhar/Manning Point and Harrington.
The birds nest on beaches in summer, with extremely well-camouflaged eggs and chicks on sand nests being almost invisible.
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.
This year we've really noticed our 4WD community abiding by the beach driving rules, there were no recorded breaches of the protective fence and as a result no known losses from nests being driven over.Tanya Cross
"Our beaches are one of the most important breeding sites for little terns in NSW, normally producing up to a quarter of all fledglings in the State."
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 next year."
At the peak of the breeding season this year there were around 60 breeding little tern pairs with nearly 30 juveniles observed in the Hawks Nest area.
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However, bait shy foxes, and on occasion domestic dogs gaining access to the fenced off areas meant numbers were down on previous years in the Harrington/Farquhar areas.
"We will plan with our working group again next year to hopefully see an even stronger season, but the 4WD activity is really promising and we appreciate the community's assistance by observing the signage and following the beach driving rules," Ms Cross said.
For more information on Share the Shore and why it is such an important message, head to the MidCoast Council Share the Shore page HERE.
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