Things looking up for endangered bird
The annual census of threatened species of shore birds will commence on the Northern Rivers this week but there are already positive signs for at least some rare breeds.
Brunswick Heads is the home of one of the state's most threatened species of shore birds - the oystercatcher.
There are known to be just three pairs in the town's estuary, but the good news is that this season they've raised six chicks.
They're also known to be successfully nesting at the Clarence with a National Parks and Wildlife Service surveilance camera capturing rare pictures of the cute chicks there above.
There have also been a number of beach-stone curlew chicks hatch this year in the region including in the Clarence and at Brunswick Heads.
But the big picture for the bird's outlook in the region, who begin nesting in July, won't be known until the count of the critically endangered breeds is complete.
NPWS rangers, marine park staff and volunteers will participate in the state-wide census of these breeds plus the little tern this week.
They'll be out on foot and in boats searching known breeding locations at beaches and estuaries at Evans, Richmond, Brunswick and Tweed Rivers.
NPWS Ranger Liz Dargin said: "Rangers don't just count bird numbers, but also make note of how many breeders there are - birds that are producing chicks."
"The breeders are usually seen in the company of their mate and last year we counted three breeder pairs of beach stone curlews," she said.
Ms Dargin said 208 pied oystercatchers were counted in 2011, including 83 breeding birds; 2084 little terns were spotted, including 99 breeding birds.
"Carrying out a survey like this is challenging.
"To avoid unnecessary disturbance of the endangered birds rangers use binoculars and spotting scopes to do the survey."
The survey is part of the NSW Fox Threat Abatement Plan and provides important information on the shore bird numbers and movements to strengthen their protection.
Volunteers from the Byron Bird Buddies and the Tweed Bird Observers will work with rangers.