Manning kids are shorebird experts
Published on 22 June 2018
What do you know about the Manning's amazing shorebirds? If you're shrugging your shoulders, it might be worth asking a young person close to you - there's a good chance they're an expert!
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has just completed a custom-designed, educational Shorebird Discovery Program across six schools in the Taree / Manning area, with 18 sessions involving 849 students. It's all part of a multi-agency program to raise awareness of the importance of our beaches as a nesting site for endangered shorebirds.
"The program, delivered at Old Bar, Mitchells Island, Harrington, Hallidays Point, Tinonee and Cundletown Public Schools, encourages school children to develop an understanding and deeper appreciation of shorebirds and our local environment" says Katherine Howard of the NPWS 'Saving our Species' Program. "A key part was interactive learning experiences to help students broaden their knowledge, examine ecological values and use critical and creative thinking to explore ways in which we can help the region's threatened shorebirds."
And in case you need to brush up on your local knowledge - some of the unique beaches in the Manning region are home to some incredible shorebirds, which make long journeys each year to breed or forage. For example, the beaches around Harrington, Manning Point, Old Bar and Farquhar Park are nationally significant nesting sites for endangered Little Terns, Pied Oystercatchers and Beach Stone-curlews. The birds nest on our beaches in summer, with extremely well-camouflaged eggs and chicks on sand nests being almost invisible.
Putting our sites on the international map, the Aleutian Tern, a migratory species from Alaska, was observed at Farquhar Inlet in late 2017. This is the first sighting of this species in Australia ever.
"The school program aims to promote shorebird conservation, through ensuring our next generation knows why local shorebirds are endangered, ways to assist in their conservation and advocate sustainable beach behaviour" says MidCoast Council's Catchment Officer - Ecosystem Management, Dr Karen Bettink.
"We hope they will also spread the word to the adults at home and in their community."
Landscape changes mean that these birds face many threats and are now endangered. Predation from foxes, 4WDs above the high tide mark and disturbance from people and dogs prove major challenges for these birds while breeding. The last two nesting seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18) have been disastrous for the Little Terns at Manning Point. Most years, around 100 chicks at this site survive to fledge into adulthood. In 2016-17, all Little Tern eggs and chicks were lost to foxes, 4WDs and pet dogs. In 2017-18, only one fledgling survived.
Ahead of this year's breeding season, MidCoast Council is working with project partners including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, on a range of actions so that our shorelines can be shared by people in conjunction with helping protect the birds and their offspring. You can read more about this multi-agency program to protect the Shorebirds' nesting area, and what you can do to help, at midcoast.nsw.gov.au/ShareTheShore