In her daily walk along the Botany Bay foreshore, WIRES volunteer and director of the conservation organisation BirdLife Australia, Penny McMullin sees the dangers to many threatened species of shorebirds.
Dogs can kill shorebird chicks, people can accidentally step on their eggs, and litter on the beach can see the birds eat plastic or become entangled in fishing line.
Penny believes the Sandringham and Dolls Point foreshore should be declared a protection zone for endangered migratory birds that fly here from as far away as Siberia and Alaska.
The foreshore's intertidal mudflats are important feeding sites not only for migratory shorebirds but also endangered Australian species.
Some shorebird populations have declined by up to 80 percent over the past 30 years because of destruction of their habitats, hunting and other disturbances.
In a Notice of Motion submitted to the May 25 Bayside Council meeting, Cr Heidi Lee Douglas asked the council to work with the Georges Riverkeeper program to develop a shorebird protection plan to accommodate resident and migratory shorebirds.
This was supported by the council.
There are 18 species of migratory shorebirds regularly found in Botany Bay, she told the council.
These include Bar-tailed Godwits which migrate to Australia every spring and spend more than six months a year here preparing for their annual migration to their breeding grounds in Siberia and Alaska.
The Bar-tailed Godwit holds the record for the longest non-stop flight of any bird, a 13,560km continuous flight from Alaska to Australia, flying over 11 days.
Botany Bay also supports populations of the Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew.
"We are incredibly lucky to have these shorebirds sharing our beaches," Penny said.
"Unfortunately their populations have dropped significantly. These mudflats provide good quality feeding habitats that are critical to their survival. It is really important we provide better protection to these shorebirds," she said.
"The danger for the birds is people letting their dogs run on the beach. The birds can only eat at low tide. If a dog comes onto the mudflat, even if it is friendly, it will scare the birds away and they won't be able to eat, which could impact on their ability to migrate back to their breeding ground."
Despite the dangers, Penny said there is new life coming to the local mudflats.
"In the past week I have seen a few Double-banded Plovers from New Zealand on the mudflats at Sandringham and at the beach at Dolls Point. I've never seen them here before," she said.
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