SAWTELL’S endangered Little Tern nesting colony within Bongil Bongil National Park has suffered a major blow with thieves effectively destroying this season’s breeding chances.
Around lunchtime on Sunday, November 21, two young men were seen inside the nesting area within Bonville Creek collecting eggs from the rare birds’ nests.
Around 25 eggs had been collected into a pile when the thieves, challenged by park visitors, fled upstream by boat.
Despite efforts to restore the eggs to the nests the birds have abandoned their clutches, resulting in the loss of the eggs that were just about to hatch.
National Parks and Wildlife Service Coffs Coast Area Manager Glenn Storrie said the disturbance was likely to have a significant impact on the little terns’ breeding this season.
“These rare nesting shorebirds have a precise knowledge of the number, location and distinguishing features of the eggs they have laid and have been nurturing.
“They will not roost on another birds eggs,” Mr Storrie said.
“Stealing eggs of a threatened species is a serious matter and this matter is now under investigation,” he said.
“We are seeking to speak with two boys aged in their late teens described as both having sun-bleached sandy blonde hair.
“They were piloting an older style, heavy duty tinny that had orange rope or fishing nets draped over the bow with weathered black registration numbers that were difficult to decipher.
“Above the black numbering was similarly weathered red writing, possibly the brand of boat.
“The suspects were seen driving the vessel at excessive speed in Bonville Creek – which has a four-knot speed limit – around 1pm on Sunday last weekend. They are believed to be locals who entered the waterway upstream from the Lyons Road boat ramp, possibly from Bonville Waters or Bonville.”
The NPWS would like to hear from anyone with information that can assist the enquiry. All information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence.
Phone 6652 0900.