Good turn: Share the shore to help protect Little Terns visiting the Coast
Rare chicks are ready for summer on their favourite Central Coast beach
Turns out humans are not the only living beings holidaying on the coast in the summer months...
Introducing Little Terns of the Central Coast; an Australian native bird and the smallest Australian tern at just 20cm long! Little Terns are mainly a coastal species, so you can see why the Central Coast is their habitat of choice for breeding season with its endless beaches, lakes and lagoons.
You may have heard some of the best beaches to head to locally are Avoca Beach or Terrigal Beach, but for the Little Terns it's all about Karagi Point at the The Entrance North Beach. This is the place to be for their annual egg-laying journey and the birth of their gorgeous chicks (which weigh less than a scoop of icecream!). Little Terns offer a spectacle for onlookers - they can be seen flying gracefully along the coastline and over Tuggerah Lakes, frequently diving into the water to catch fish, their main source of food.
So we're calling on beachgoers to #SharetheShore. Extremely sensitive to human disturbance, both locals and visitors must do all we can in summertime to ensure the beautiful Little Terns feel welcome and remain comfortable at their chosen breeding location in The Entrance North. Previous disruptions have caused a rapid decline in their overall numbers and, unfortunately, they are now considered an Endangered species.
These little birds suffer quite a lot of torment - habitat loss, human disturbance at nesting sites, and egg loss by foxes, dogs, cats and larger predatory birds. When the Little Terns migrate from South-east Asia to Australia every Summer they are actually protected under both Australian State and Federal threatened species legislation.
As a certified ECO Destination since 2022, the Central Coast community will continue to do all that's possible to protect not only the natural landscapes of the region, but all the creatures living among us. To echo our Central Coast Sustainability Pledge; we encourage our community and our guests to tread lightly and go slow on the NSW Central Coast.
Protecting graceful Little Terns
Several ways you can help their survival this summer
Whether you're a resident or visitor, we would be so grateful if you and your family can please show general respect for our precious wildlife who call the Coast home.
In addition to your gentle commitment to tread lightly when exploring your own backyard or visiting the Central Coast as a guest, we've compiled some simple yet hugely impactful ways we can all protect the safety of our Little Terns during their vital visit each summer.
- Respectfully stay back from the fenced area at Karagi Point.
Central Coast Council have worked tirelessly alongside NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and also NSW Biodiversity and Conservation Division, to construct purpose-built fencing and signage around the Little Terns' breeding area to protect the eggs and chicks.
- Admire from The Entrance (south).
You can easily see our beautiful native bird life from the boardwalk above the water located on The Entrance southern side. This means that you can take in the stunning surroundings of The Entrance channel from Memorial Park, all while the precious Little Terns and their fluffy chicks are not disrupted. Win, win!
- Ssshh! Lower your noise pollution.
These birds have come a long way to chill with their chicks. Please avoid playing loud music, large group gatherings, or using boats or jet skis with loud motors near Karagi Point. These disruptions can have a heartbreaking impact on Little Tern chicks.
- Don’t take your dog, even on a lead, to Karagi Point.
We welcome your furry friends with open arms at many dog parks and beaches on the Central Coast. This list of dog friendly locations makes it easy to know where you can all enjoy with the peace of mind that our wildlife won’t be disturbed.
- Don't feed the birds or free your cat!
Generally it's never good to feed wild animals, but please do not feed Sea (Silver) Gulls and other scavenger birds in The Entrance North area, as this may lead them to predate on (and fatally harm) Little Terns. Additionally, if you live locally and own a cat please keep it indoors at night - if caught harming the nests severe financial penalties from roaming rangers can come your way.
- Avoid airtime.
Drones and kites flown within the fenced area can lead to colony abandonment! Take your pick from alternative drone locations to take your epic drone shots instead, without the risk of harming wildlife.
- Report any sightings.
Your valuable on-the-ground information on sightings of chicks, eggs or foxes outside the fenced area, or any unauthorised activities nearby, should be shared directly to Central Coast Council on 02 4306 7900 to take action.
- Above all, leave only footprints and #Take3fortheSea
Take your rubbish, food waste, fishing tackle, line and bait home with you, or to the nearest bin. This rubbish can easily entice predators and have a fatal impact on the already declining numbers of Little Terns at Karagi Point! We can all agree this is the last thing we want for wildlife on the Central Coast. Please note: bins are located in The Entrance North car park.
Photographers and birdwatchers
Twitching like a pro
Twitchers are passionate bird watchers, and we understand it may help to feed your curiosity to see the Little Terns live and up close by taking some memorable photos. Here's some tips from the professionals on how to observe and photograph shorebirds.
A responsible birder always:
- Keeps their distance
- Doesn’t outstay their welcome
- Respects beach closure signs, fences and beach driving rules
Click here to learn more from professional bird photographers and researchers.
Learn a little more
Free bird displays and educational events
You can learn more about our annual Little Tern visitors by attending an upcoming summer season educational talk, picking up a brochure, or seeing a free conservation science display at the Central Coast Visitor Centre, located at The Entrance.
The revamped Centre in the heart of The Entrance by the water provides more immersive insight into the Little Tern bird. Ask friendly staff to see the new educational display featuring two breeding adults and three chicks (at various developmental stages), which have been taxidermed, along with an unviable egg, and positioned over a sandy substrate to replicate beach nesting. These collected science specimens have already contributed to conservation science, having undergone genetic testing at The Australian Museum.
Find out more in person by meeting the National Parks Discovery Rangers and Council's dedicated education team at a number of free talks available over the summer nesting season:
- 9-10 December 2023 - During outdoor festivals at The Entrance, NPWS Rangers will be present at Karagi Point
- 26 and 31 December 2023, 1 and 26 January 2024 - Rangers will be roaming Karagi Point to answer any questions
- January 2024 - Shorebird education workshops will be held for children in local caravan holiday parks.
Local eco-friendly experiences
If you’d like to learn more about the variety of wildlife we have here on the Central Coast generally, start with booking some local eco-friendly experiences with:
- Pelican Time at The Entrance to meet these iconic coastal birds with a trained wildlife rescuer
- Terrigal Ocean Tours to see whales, seals and dolphins
- Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park to meet meerkats, bilby and roaming macropods
- Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre to see Dave the Port Jackson shark and hundreds of marine artefacts
- Iris Lodge Alpacas to have breakfast with farmlife surrounded by native birds on a sustainable farm.
This article was originally authored in collaboration with A World Unfiltered and the Destination Central Coast team, as part of Love Central Coast's support for growing the region's Eco Advocate community. To maintain accuracy, some editorial changes may have been made since publication.