Willis Lake terns abandon nest

The entire little tern bird colony has abandoned its Hearnes Lake breeding site after being disturbed.

Kitesurfers using the beach are believed to have inadvertently disturbed the birds as their kites are seen by the little terns as predators.

NPWS and council rangers will be patrolling the Flat Top area to ensure further disturbance to the breeding colony does not occur.

“At the latest count, we had recorded approximately 250 birds at the site – a record number which had exceeded all our expectations,” the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s (NPWS) Coffs Coast area manager Glen Storrie said.

“Little terns are quite particular about where they choose to nest and the presence of avian predators like brahminy kites, sea eagles and other raptors are a factor in breeding site selection.

“After kitesurfing activity over last weekend the numbers of birds dropped to only three. It appears the birds were spooked. We are hopeful that some may return, but there are simply no guarantees.”

The Willis Creek mouth site was only identified – and fenced off – as a potential breeding ground in 2007, but 21 nesting pairs established themselves and 11 chicks were hatched that year.

Kitesurfers are being strongly urged to abide by a voluntary 150-metre exclusion zone around the area or seek out alternative sites.



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