South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program

The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program was set up in 1999 by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to reduce the rate of decline of threatened shorebirds and recover populations by enhancing breeding success.

This long-term program monitors and protects shorebird nesting habitat across all coastal environments from Wollongong to the NSW/VIC border, regardless of land tenure and promotes collaboration between land management organisations. Strong partnerships have developed over time between NPWS and local councils, plus other state and government agencies, local environment groups and individual members of the community, including over 100 dedicated volunteers.

Our volunteers are pivotal to the success of the program. Shorebird volunteers help us monitor individual nesting sites and implement habitat protection measures, which are vital to the survival and recovery of threatened shorebirds.

Become a volunteer and help us protect threatened beach-nesting birds – email us to find out how.

The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program was set up in 1999 by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to reduce the rate of decline of threatened shorebirds and recover populations by enhancing breeding success.

This long-term program monitors and protects shorebird nesting habitat across all coastal environments from Wollongong to the NSW/VIC border, regardless of land tenure and promotes collaboration between land management organisations. Strong partnerships have developed over time between NPWS and local councils, plus other state and government agencies, local environment groups and individual members of the community, including over 100 dedicated volunteers.

Our volunteers are pivotal to the success of the program. Shorebird volunteers help us monitor individual nesting sites and implement habitat protection measures, which are vital to the survival and recovery of threatened shorebirds.

Become a volunteer and help us protect threatened beach-nesting birds – email us to find out how.

  • The benefits of volunteering with us

    by uthpala.gunethilake, about 3 years ago
    Lisa brown shorebird survey group
    We currently have over 100 dedicated volunteers assisting the program along the South Coast.

    These community volunteers play a vital and significant role helping us monitor and protect numerous South Coast breeding sites.

    The endeavours of volunteers have been central to the protection of shorebird nesting colonies and have enabled the program to increase its coverage and the number of sites managed.

    The combined actions and recovery efforts of these volunteers, community based organisations and government agencies will undoubtedly help to ensure the continued survival of breeding shorebirds on the south coast of NSW.

    Become a volunteer

    We are always...

    We currently have over 100 dedicated volunteers assisting the program along the South Coast.

    These community volunteers play a vital and significant role helping us monitor and protect numerous South Coast breeding sites.

    The endeavours of volunteers have been central to the protection of shorebird nesting colonies and have enabled the program to increase its coverage and the number of sites managed.

    The combined actions and recovery efforts of these volunteers, community based organisations and government agencies will undoubtedly help to ensure the continued survival of breeding shorebirds on the south coast of NSW.

    Become a volunteer

    We are always looking for people to help out, even just for a few hours – you can make a difference. Volunteering with us is also a great way to meet people with a common interest in shorebirds.

    All NPWS shorebird volunteers participate in initial orientation and training before becoming formally involved. Ongoing guidance and assistance for volunteers is provided by the Shorebird Coordinators. Volunteers are also provided with essential equipment and clothing to undertake their duties, such as gloves, long-sleeved shirts and hats.

    Volunteers' duties include helping us with the following:

    • erecting temporary habitat protection measures, such as string and/or electric fences, and interpretative or directional signage.
    • maintaining fences and signs
    • sandbagging nest sites under threat of inundation
    • surveying beaches and estuaries for any shorebird nesting activity and reporting this to the shorebird coordinator
    • monitoring key shorebird nesting sites
    • providing public education by answering questions from the public and handing out brochures.

    Volunteers participating in the program gain a wide range of skills such as bird identification, field, construction and maintenance and effective communication. In addition, participants gain satisfaction that their efforts have directly contributed to the conservation of threatened shorebirds in their local area.

    Become a volunteer and help us protect threatened beach-nesting birds – email us to find out how.


  • The threatened shorebirds we monitor and protect

    by uthpala.gunethilake, about 3 years ago
    Hooded plover adult 200by150

    Hooded plover

    Thinornis cucullatus
    Other common names: hooded dotterel or ‘Hoodie’

    This small shorebird is now listed as a critically endangered species in NSW (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995) and nationally listed as a vulnerable species (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). The species occurs along the coast from Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW to the western Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and along the southern coast of WA. However, within NSW, the hooded plover occurs along the southern coast only, breeding as far north as Jervis Bay.

    There are fewer than...

    Hooded plover

    Thinornis cucullatus
    Other common names: hooded dotterel or ‘Hoodie’

    This small shorebird is now listed as a critically endangered species in NSW (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995) and nationally listed as a vulnerable species (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). The species occurs along the coast from Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW to the western Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and along the southern coast of WA. However, within NSW, the hooded plover occurs along the southern coast only, breeding as far north as Jervis Bay.

    There are fewer than 70 hooded plovers in NSW.

    Visit the hooded plover threatened species page for more information or download the hooded plover fact sheet (PDF 672KB).

    Sooty oystercatcher

    Haematopus fuliginosus
    Other common names: black redbill

    The sooty oystercatcher is listed as a vulnerable species in New South Wales (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995). It has a thinly scattered distribution throughout Australia, usually associated with rocky outcrops, headlands, offshore islands and exposed reefs.

    It is estimated that there are approximately 600 sooty oystercatchers in NSW and less than a third of these are breeding adults.

    Visit the sooty oystercatcher threatened species page for more information or download the sooty oystercatcher fact sheet (PDF 567KB).

    Pied oystercatcher

    Haematopus longirostris

    The pied oystercatcher is listed as an endangered species in New South Wales (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995). It has a thinly scattered distribution throughout Australia, where it prefers sandy beaches and sandy-shored estuaries. Small groups and individuals are found scattered along the beaches and estuaries along the entire NSW South Coast, at times flocking up into larger groups.

    It is estimated that there are fewer than 200 pairs of pied oystercatchers in NSW.

    Visit the pied oystercatcher threatened species page for more information or download the pied oystercatcher fact sheet (PDF 147KB).

    Little tern

    Sternula albifrons
    Other common names: sea swallow, white-shafted ternlet

    This species is the smallest tern species. Its constant chattering and delightful high-pitched calls can be heard when the tern is fishing and within breeding colonies. It is endangered in NSW (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995)and is threatened in Victoria, South Australia and endangered in QLD. Within NSW, an eastern subspecies of the little tern predominately occurs and was once quite common. However, recent records indicate that little terns now exist in a medium-sized, non-breeding population and a small, threatened breeding population.

    There are between 350 and 400 breeding pairs of little tern in NSW.

    Visit the little tern threatened species page for more information or download the little tern fact sheet (PDF 230KB).

    Fairy tern

    Sternula nereis

    This small tern species is very similar to the little tern in appearance. It has suffered serious decline across its distribution and is now nationally listed as a vulnerable species (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). This species’ stronghold is in Western Australia (from Dampier south) across southern Australia to Tasmania. It is present in only small colonies in the eastern states and disperses to a handful of sites, among the little tern colonies, on the NSW South Coast.

    There are fewer than 50 fairy terns nesting in NSW.

    Visit the fairy tern threatened species page for more information.


  • How you can help protect threatened shorebirds

    by uthpala.gunethilake, about 3 years ago
    Amy harris shorebird sign200jpg

    Individual actions make a difference.

    During your visits to local beaches and estuaries, keep an eye out for shorebirds and get to know your local species (take along some binoculars) – you could join a local bird watching group. You could also volunteer to help NPWS monitor and protect these threatened beach nesting birds.

    We monitor all shorebird nests within the region and some require active management in order to survive so please report any nests to us. If you are a dog-owner, please exercise your dog in accordance with local dog-exercise policies, and read and follow the instructions of...

    Individual actions make a difference.

    During your visits to local beaches and estuaries, keep an eye out for shorebirds and get to know your local species (take along some binoculars) – you could join a local bird watching group. You could also volunteer to help NPWS monitor and protect these threatened beach nesting birds.

    We monitor all shorebird nests within the region and some require active management in order to survive so please report any nests to us. If you are a dog-owner, please exercise your dog in accordance with local dog-exercise policies, and read and follow the instructions of any shorebird nesting signage on your local beach.

    We lose endangered shorebirds every year to entanglement in fishing gear, so help reduce this threat by picking up dangerous rubbish such as fishing lines and plastics.

    Spread the word about these amazing birds that live on the beach.

    Become a volunteer and help us protect threatened beach-nesting birds – email us to find out how.


  • Achievements of the South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program

    by Shane.Dingwall, about 3 years ago
    Simon tedder img 4779 bird mural wall painting 2016
    The beaches, estuaries, sand spits, rocky headlands and offshore islands of the south coast support a range of threatened resident and migratory shorebirds. The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program monitors and protects all five species of shorebird nesting within the region. The species are:

    The National Parks and Wildlife Service, with the help of volunteers, has achieved more for shorebird conservation than it could have on its own.
    This long-running program has achieved the following and continues to build on its success:
    The beaches, estuaries, sand spits, rocky headlands and offshore islands of the south coast support a range of threatened resident and migratory shorebirds. The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program monitors and protects all five species of shorebird nesting within the region. The species are:

    The National Parks and Wildlife Service, with the help of volunteers, has achieved more for shorebird conservation than it could have on its own.
    This long-running program has achieved the following and continues to build on its success:

    • Raised public awareness of local shorebird conservation by installing interpretive signs at key shorebird locations, producing posters and brochures to hand out to the public and beachgoers, promoting the program and its conservation message through the media including ongoing newsletters and newspaper articles, giving public talks, hosting shorebird conferences and giving conference presentations, radio and television interviews.
    • Stationed volunteer wardens at key sites and installing temporary fencing that has undoubtedly reduced human disturbance.
    • Implemented predator control programs for foxes and avian pest species and reducing the rate of nest loss particularly due to fox predation.
    • Developed a comprehensive shorebird monitoring program.
    • Gathered valuable information on the ecology of nesting threatened shorebirds and gaining expertise in shorebird management.
    • Increased numbers of eggs, chicks and fledglings of pied oystercatchers, hooded plovers, and little terns following management actions.
    • Birds have successfully bred and fledged young on busy and heavily used beaches following careful management.
    • Accurately determined reasons for nest failure in most cases.
    Become a volunteer and help us protect threatened beach-nesting birds – email us to find out how.