Dog owners visiting South Coast beaches are advised to check for warning signs after a pair of critically endangered hooded plover birds were discovered nesting in the dunes at the northern end of Cormorant Beach, Bawley Point.
A Shoalhaven City Council spokeswoman said National Parks and Wildlife Service officers are erecting signs at Cormorant Beach to advise of the restrictions around shorebird nesting areas. Dogs are prohibited within 200 metres of a shorebird nesting site.
Beaches to the north - Bawley Beach and North Beach, and to the south - Gannet Beach and Murramarang Beach, can be used as an alternative to exercise dogs on leash while the signs are in place.
Dog owners are also advised to take care at other known hooded plover nesting locations, which include Berara Beach, Manyana Beach and the entrance to Lake Tabourie, as well as at nesting locations of little terns at Lake Conjola, Burrill Lake and Lake Wollumboola.
NPWS shorebird recovery co-ordinator Jodie Dunn said there are fewer than 70 hooded plover birds remaining in NSW.
"This timid little shorebird lays two or three eggs in a shallow nest scrape in the sand, just above the high tide mark," Ms Dunn said.
"People protect nests using stake and string fencing and temporary beach signage to minimise disturbance to the birds.
"After four weeks, tiny fluffy chicks hatch out and start roaming the beach looking for food. Parents accompany the chicks and attempt to protect them by distracting potential predators, but the little chicks must feed themselves.
"So these little ones need space to roam the beach to find food, and unfortunately they don't stay inside the fence, but people can easily help them survive by walking down by the waterline and keeping dogs under control on nesting beaches."