Help make it a great new year for rare birds

National Parks rangers on the NSW south coast want beachgoers to take care around wild bird nesting sites this holiday season.

Little tern (Sterna albifrons) with chicks

The National Parks and Wildlife Service Shorebird Recovery Program team is working with dedicated local volunteers to monitor and protect beach nesting birds like the endangered Little Terns, Pied Oyster Catchers and the critically endangered Hooded Plover, of which just 70 birds survive.

Senior Conservation Planning Officer, Max Beukers, said: "Often these birds make simple scrapes in the sand to nest in and this can be very hard to see, particularly as the birds cleverly camouflage the eggs and the chicks when they hatch."

"Our rangers and the volunteers have set up protective fences and signs around the nest sites, so beach visitors are aware during the nesting season from August to March, peaking in the summer months. This coincides with the peak time for beachgoers to flock to the coast especially during school holidays."

The nesting shorebirds are easily disturbed by beachgoers and dog walkers, causing the parent birds to leave the nest to distract potential predators. This leaves the eggs and chicks exposed to heat and cold and other predators. The chicks will hide and then not feed.

"We're asking everyone to obey the signs, keep well clear of fenced areas and keep dogs on their leashes," Mr Beukers said.

"Chicks do not stay inside the fenced areas and will roam outside the protected area, so keeping dogs on leash and down by the water on beaches will help keep the chicks safe."

The Shorebird Recovery Program is part of the NSW Saving our Species (SoS) program funded by the $100 million Threatened Species Program to secure as many species in the wild as possible. It includes monitoring, nest protection and predator control work to help the recovery of the birds into the future.

The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program is supported by over 100 local volunteers from Wollongong to the Victorian border.