The Tuross Head Little Tern Colony

Tuross Lake Little Tern colony summary for 2009

All is quiet on the Little Tern front, the entire colony having departed early last week. This is a common occurrence for Little Tern colonies to react to some internal call that announces their eminent departure date and they literally just up and go usually over one or two days at the end of the season. By now they could be up around northern Australia or even into Indonesian or Asian waters. Its quite amazing to think that these tiny little birds will travel thousands of kilometres north to ‘over-winter’ in warmer climates and then return again in October/November to commence breeding.

Prior to their departure the just fledged chicks gathered on the shoreline with their parents and practiced their flying and diving skills. This was an important time to build up the strength and flying skills needed for the migratory journey ahead. The fledglings often were fatter that their parents. While learning to catch their own fish they were also still getting a ‘free feed’ off their parents. These accumulated energy stores would increase their chance of survival in the coming weeks, whilst they learnt to become efficient in plunge diving for fish.

This season the Tuross Little Tern colony was the largest on the Far South Coast with over 100 adults present and also the most successful with an estimated 39 chicks surviving to fledge. This fantastic outcome was only achieved through the efforts of the dedicated volunteers who helped NPWS to protect and monitor these endangered shorebirds. The NPWS would like to thank all those involved in the Shorebird Program this season at Tuross Lake for all their assistance.

photos below courtesy of John Cornish

Little terns in NSW: a six-year review - 1998/99 to 2003/04


NPWS seeks volunteers to help shorebirds

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) seek volunteers to help in community efforts to reverse a longer term fall in the number of threatened and endangered shorebird species which are just starting to nest on the Far South Coast.

Volunteers have been the backbone of the NPWS Shorebird Recovery effort for the past decade and have made a
huge impact in helping to stall the decline of species such as the threatened Little Tern.

NPWS Shorebird Recovery coordinator for the Far South Coast, Amy Harris, says that without volunteers shorebirds would really struggle.

“The big issue for shorebirds is that they breed in the same space that people like to play at around the same time of the year - on beaches and sand spits. To make things more difficult they lay eggs which are speckled and really well camouflaged to blend in with the shell grit, seaweed and debris that washes up on the shoreline. So often people and their pets can interrupt nesting on a beach or sand spit without really knowing.

“With people, dogs, foxes, crows, gulls, storms and big tides the challenges for shorebirds are significant.

“This is where volunteers come in. They help us set up fenced off areas, post signs and some just spend days taking turns watching over nesting groups of birds, explaining things to locals and visitors and reminding people to keep pets under control.

“The beaches get busier over the summer holidays so volunteers play a critical role in helping shorebirds have a successful breeding season.

The NPWS is always looking to involve the community in the program “we are looking for as many people as we can find because many hands makes light work and the shorebirds really need all the help they can get,” the NPWS shorebird Co-ordinator said.

For more information about the threatened shorebirds and how you can become a volunteer contact NPWS on 44760834