Some nests lost while others survive

LITTLE terns nesting at Lake Conjola have managed to survive last week’s wild conditions and big seas.
Nanjing Night Net

However nests and chicks of the endangered species elsewhere in the Shoalhaven were not so lucky.

“The little tern colony at Lake Conjola narrowly escaped the storm surge, with water washing through the fenced breeding area and all around the nests,” said NPWS Shorebird Recovery Coordinator Jodie Dunn.

“Little terns were seen sitting on their eggs and chicks protecting them during howling winds and torrential rain.

“There have been 43 little tern nests recorded at Lake Conjola this season, with at least 15 chicks hatched so far, many during the height of the storm,” Ms Dunn said.

However on the day the first chick of the season was fledged at Lake Conjola, creating a “cause for celebration”, the harrowing weather conditions claimed five nests at Lake Wollumboola.

The storm surge at Lake Wollumboola proved too strong and the last of the little tern nests were lost on Tuesday.

“Tuesday morning two of the five Little Tern nests at Lake Wollumboola were intact thanks to their elevation on sand mounds and the placement of a small number of sand bags in front of each nest,” said NPWS South Coast Regional Manager Diane Garrood.

“Unfortunately at high tide the nests were lost, so no chicks will fledge here this season.

“Our new priority is removing signs, fencing and sandbags used in the rescue attempt.”

Ms Garrood said staff and volunteers faced a balance between letting nature take its course and protecting the endangered species.

She said small-scale sandbagging had succeeded in the past.

“I thank everyone who helped fortify little tern nests, putting in such a great effort while the waves poured over the sand bar,” Ms Garrood said.

Shorebird volunteer programs are an example of how the Office of Environment and Heritage empowers people to directly care for their local environment.

To learn more about volunteering call the Ulladulla NPWS office on 4454 9500.

VULNERABLE: A little tern chick.

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