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Conserving Cockatoos and Curlews on the Tweed Coast

Council has been awarded a grant by the NSW Environmental Trust to work on a project to conserve Glossy Black-Cockatoo and Bush Stone-curlew on the Tweed Coast.

This project will focus conservation efforts for the Bush Stone-curlew and Glossy Black-Cockatoo on the Tweed Coast by managing known key threats including habitat loss and disturbance, and predation (seeking out eggs and nests) and disturbance by domestic pets and feral animals.

Read more about the Conserving Cockatoos and Curlews on the Tweed Coast project.

Beach-nesting Birds

The Tweed Coast is home to five species of beach-nesting birds. Among these are some birds that are unique, in that the beach provides habitat for their entire life-cycle; foraging, roosting and breeding. These birds experience one of the harshest struggles of any bird to successfully produce young.

These birds are:

  • Australian Pied Oystercatcher
  • Little Tern
  • Sooty Oystercatcher
  • Red-capped Plover
  • Beach Stone-curlew

Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Only one or two chicks survive each year on the Tweed Coast.
Little Tern
Little Tern
There has only been one Little Tern chick raised in the Tweed Coast since 1994.
Sooty Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher
Tweed Coast populations are declining, and chick survivorship is very low.
Red-capped Plover
Red Capped Plover
No longer attempts to nest on the Tweed Coast.
Beach Stone-curlew
Beach Stone Curlew
Hatched one chick at Cudgera Creek Park in early December 2018.

Places they use to feed and nest are:

  • beaches and estuaries
  • Tweed River mouth
  • the islands of Terranora inlet and Broadwater.

Each nest is critical

All five species of beach-nesting birds that live on the Tweed Coast are now in danger of extinction. Beaches and islands that were once isolated are now teeming with boats, beach goers and their pets. This means the birds no longer have anywhere quiet to nest.

Eggs and chicks of beach-nesting birds blend in with their surroundings and are nearly invisible on the ground, so it is easy for unknowing beach goers to crush the eggs or kill young chicks accidentally (the fate of each delicate nest is truly critical to the survival of these birds).

Help them protect their young

Beach-nesting birds view people and pets as a threat to their nests and young, and will react defensively when you get too close. If you remain too close to beach-nesting birds, they may try driving you away by calling out loudly and dive bombing you. Some species may pretend to have a broken wing to lure your attention away from a nest.

When adult birds are actively defending in these ways, they can’t protect eggs and chicks from the hot sun. If beach-nesting birds alert you that you are too close, please move away. When the adult stays off the eggs for more than 30 minutes, the embryo in the egg dies. Tweed Coast beaches are busy during the summer months. In most cases the parent birds spend the day off the eggs trying to lead people away from their nest.

By being a thoughtful beach-user, you can help beach-nesting birds and their young survive. To help protect our beach-nesting birds recreational beach activities (e.g. surfing, dog-walking, fishing) should be undertaken with special care.

Summer danger!

The greatest threat to Australia’s beach-nesting birds is disturbance from people visiting the beach. This disturbance is greatest in spring and summer, when beach-nesting birds usually lay their eggs,

This short video by BirdLife Australia introduces Australia's beach-nesting shorebirds. This special group of birds depend on coastal habitats for survival. They lay their eggs directly on the ground on beaches, estuaries and rocky coastal areas.

Their fascinating cryptic behaviours are clever adaptations to the predators they face, but given the love people have for beaches, there are now many new threats added to the mix. (Published on 14 September 2015)

Learn more at birdlife.org.au/projects/beach-nesting-birds

You can help!

While enjoying the beach, take these simple steps:

  • learn to identify beach-nesting birds - if you are seeing them during the warmer months it is likely that they are nesting nearby
  • read the signage as you enter the beach - these will tell you if there are birds nesting on your beach and how best to share the beach with them
  • give the birds some space - if you see the nesting birds, move away quickly; staying at least 100 metres clear of a signed or fenced area where birds are nesting gives them a much greater chance of hatching and raising their chicks
  • beach-nesting birds nest on the dunes and the soft sand - keep near the water’s edge if you are jogging, walking, or cycling along the beach
  • keep your dog on the lead at all times and respect the boundaries in off-leash areas - avoid taking dogs onto islands and remote beaches.

Cudgera Creek Estuary (Hastings Point)

Cudgera Creek estuary provides important habitat for many species of beach-nesting birds including the critically endangered Beach Stone-curlew. The estuary and adjacent beaches are also significant for migratory shorebirds with over 2,500 individual shorebirds utilising the area over the summer months. To reduce disturbance associated with dogs, the mouth of Cudgera Creek, Hasting Point has been delcared a ‘Dog Prohibited’ zone under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

The Dog Prohibited zone encompasses land east of Tweed Coast Road from Yugari Drive north to Peninsula Street, including all foreshore areas of the Cudgera Creek estuary and the beach north of Cudgera Creek mouth to the shoreline adjacent to the Peninsula Street beach access walkway.

For more information, visit Where can I walk my dog?

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