Botany Bay and Catchment Alliance Media Release 28th February 2007

Bumper Breeding Season for Little Terns at Port Botany

One of the State’s rarest birds, the Little Tern, has enjoyed a bumper breeding season at Port Botany this year. Sydney’s Little Tern expert, Darryl McKay, banded 19 chicks and recorded 9 fledglings. “This was an outstanding result for the colony,” said Mr McKay.”We are very pleased that this threatened bird is doing so well at Port Botany and this is in large part due to the dedication of some wonderful volunteers, and strong support from National Parks and the local community,” said Ms Lynda Newnam, Chairperson of the Botany Bay and Catchment Alliance.


Penrhyn Spit where Little Terns nested

Mrs Nancy Hillier being interviewed at Penrhyn Estuary

The nesting, at the entrance to Penrhyn Estuary, at Port Botany, was fenced by NPWS and monitored by bird-watchers from around Sydney as well as the local community. “It is wonderful to have these beautiful, rare birds breeding so successfully in Botany”, said local environmentalist, Mrs Nancy Hillier. “The walkers, fishers and boating people who use this area responded very positively when asked to keep clear of the nesting area. There is great pride in having the Little Terns here. The eggs and chicks can be taken by predators such as foxes. Their nests are nearly invisible scrapes on the sand, often near the high water mark, so they are also vulnerable to storms and flooding, and vandals but the proximity to such a high security area as Port Botany brings with it protection that could not be afforded in most other areas”, Mrs Hillier added.

This breeding season will be the last for the Little Terns in this special place, because soon the nesting site will be covered with shipping containers, not eggs. “Sydney needs the Little Terns and the recreation area rather than more containers and congestion”, said Ms Newnam.


Sydney Ports Corporation has spent about $8 million to rehabilitate and expand Penrhyn Estuary to secure the area for migratory birds protected by State and Federal legislation.

Habitat Enhancement Plan detailing the works and long term management and monitoring has been prepared and approved by the Department of Planning and Commonwealth Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

Key features of the works are:

  • weed and mangrove removal
  • creation of 2.4 hectare of planted saltmarsh habitat to achieve a total area of 3.5 hectare
  • expansion of intertidal sand flats for shorebird feeding to 14 hectare (from 8 hectare)
  • creation of 6.5 hectares of seagrass habitat
  • construction of a public lookout and bird hide
  • long term maintenance.

Long term monitoring of the success of the enhancement works will be undertaken by Sydney Ports.  Offset package is required to be implemented should works be unsuccessful.  NOTE:  Sydney Ports used the EPA’s Green Draft Offsets (Biobanking by its former name) to establish a ‘value’ for Penrhyn should the ‘enhancement’ plan for the area fail – Offset Package  – Note the saltmarsh is valued at $980,000 and the shorebird habitat at $340,000


Annual Reports

Shorebird Reports

Water Quality Reports

Benthos Reports

Saltmarsh Reports

Seagrass Reports


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