Interference wioth Little Tern breeding

To: <>
Subject: Interference wioth Little Tern breeding
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 12:15:50 +1100
Hi Birders,
The volunteers who manage the Little Tern colony at Karagi Point, The Entrance, have had several issues of unacceptable behaviour from locals this year. Our two main human problems are people with dogs and  and people who climb through the fence and walk through the colony instead of going around the fence.
Many people insist on walking dogs along the beach even though it is not classed as a "dog walking area" and there are signs saying no dogs. Owners of dogs believe that they have a divine right to take them anywhere! Even if the dogs don't get through the fence all the birds will leave their eggs and young when a dog goes past, whereas they may sit there when a person walks past. When the dog is off the lead and running everywhere and even though does not actually go through the fence (our fences are not electrified) the birds go beserk. Later on when the chicks are a bit older and they wait on the beach for their parents to bring in the fish, the dogs scatter the chicks and some fly off and ten their parents spend ages when they come back with a fish looking for their chick, as they appear to return to the spot where the chicks were last! This leads to endless confusion and  in the melee, the parents wander around offering their fish to chicks (obviously not their own) who won't take it, and this draws the Slver Gulls attention to the bird with the fish and to the chicks so that the gulls come swooping iin. I have never seen anyone on our beach policing the dog laws.
The people who walk through the colony are usually good ocker aussie surfers with boards, who paddle across the inlet from the The Entrance and when they reach the spit, go through the fence rather than walk around it (it is about 400m long). If you request the surfers to  go around the fence or to the dog owners to avoid taking their dog on the beach, you get a mouthful and or the finger in the air.
Finally we also had problems with childen? who came into the colony on one occasion and collected eggs from atleast 3 nests and put them all in the one pile and then cleared the sand from around this large composite nest! The birds had deserted by the time I found this situation.
As wildlife carers/wardens we need better signs, more support & sympathy from NPWS & the local council (Little terns nest when there is the greatest risk from bushfires so invariably there are no NPWS rangers available when needed, and when for councils, the visitor pressure is highest), and more sympathy from the public and other birdwatchers. From some of the comments that I saw on birding -aus, I felt that there was not much sympathy for the problem from some of the subscribers and therefore one could not expectmuch from the general public either.
Alan Morris
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