IT has been a battle this year but the little tern colony on the shores of Lake Wollumboola has added 27 fledglings to the breed’s endangered population.
In fact the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is reporting a promising season for the South Coast’s little tern population with about 80 pairs breeding successfully this year.
The total number of breeding pairs for the entire NSW coastline now stands at almost 500, a huge leap forward considering this number dropped as low as 110 in the mid 1980s.
NPWS Shorebird Recovery Program coordinator Jodie Dunn said breeding pairs on the South Coast shoreline from Wollongong to Batemans Bay, stood at around 50 when the recovery program began in 2000.
“Thanks to a coordinated effort led by NPWS, numbers are on the rise”, Ms Dunn said.
“Little terns – which nest in colonies and can be found at the entrances to Lake Illawarra, Lake Wollumboola and Lake Conjola have responded well to recovery actions, mainly because such colonies are easier to protect by fencing off the entire nesting area.
“We’re currently seeing the chicks fledging and the colonies will soon be off on their long flight to Asia for the winter,” she said.
NPWS Lake Wollumboola site warden Frances Bray has counted total of 27 fledglings so far at the lake.
“Out of all the difficulty, some have managed to come through,” Ms Bray said. “We won’t know until the end of the month if the last nests have been successful.
She said last season there were 62 birds, a record for South Coast.
“The previous years were 48 and 40, but before that it had gone down to one or two due to fox attacks.
“The last three seasons were very successful,” Ms Bray said.
“This year we’ve done remarkably well to get 27 given we lost 22 nests to high tide and storm surge in December and 14 to a fox just before Christmas.
“I imagine that by early March the ones that have fledged now will probably leave, they’re all in training now, all flying out over the ocean,” she said.