New bid to protect nesting little terns

The little tern . . . new efforts to protect nesting site
The little tern . . . new efforts to protect nesting site

An all out effort is being made this year to allow endangered little terns to successfully breed at their Belongil Beach breeding site for the first time in 10 years.

Joining forces in the operation are the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Marine Parks Authority, Byron Council and the Belongil Bird Buddies.

NPWS rangers have started regular patrols of the site at the mouth of the Belongil Creek.

With nests made in the sand, the biggest danger to breeding pairs, other than king tides and big seas, are dogs and people.

NPWS manager, Sue Walker, said when scared from their nests for too long, the eggs or chicks might die.

Ms Walker said little terns had also been known to abandon their nest altogether if they were disturbed too often.

The little tern arrives at the mouth of the Belongil Creek - the last functional breeding site in the Byron Shire between September and February.

In the past, said Ms Walker, up to 30 breeding pairs had been recorded at the site.

"Unfortunately however, the little terns have not managed to breed successfully at this site for the last decade despite dozens and sometimes hundreds returning each year," she said.

Ms Walker said beach users could help in the conservation of the little tern, pied oystercatcher and other shorebirds, by staying outside the signposted fenced areas.

She also reminded dog owners that dogs are prohibited north of Manfred Street.

"We would like all beach users to make a special effort to avoid disturbing the birds throughout the nesting season," she said.

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