The appearance of rare birds at the Shell Cove boat harbour construction site has prompted Shellharbour City Council and Australand to delay building a section of a three-metre-high earth noise barrier.
In recent weeks Illawarra bird-watching groups have spotted a number of rare and endangered birds in the Shellharbour Swamp area, including the endangered painted snipe and several migratory birds including Latham's snipe and the pectoral sandpiper.
A council spokeswoman said to accommodate the migratory birds, Shellharbour Council and Australand sought approval from authorities to delay the north-eastern segment of the wall until the threatened species migrated in April, while allowing works to continue some distance away from that section of the bund wall.
This pond area and swamp, once part of the former council rubbish tip site, will eventually be filled in as part of the approved boat harbour development, but will be used as part of the water management process during the early stages of construction.
Michelle Rower, who is a member of the Illawarra Birders and the Illawarra Bird Observers Club, said she was delighted.
The sightings, particularly of the painted snipe, had created a buzz among local bird watchers.
"The Latham's snipe will likely migrate between February and mid-March and the pectoral sandpipers will hang around for another month," Ms Rower said.
"The painted snipe pops up in different places so you don't really know how long it will stay, but hopefully it will be gone by the time they start constructing the wall."
A compensatory wetland has been constructed at Myimbarr as part of the Shell Cove project, but Ms Rower said Myimbarr was not proving satisfactory, particularly after the 2011 floods that swept through Shellharbour.
The groups had arranged to meet Shellharbour council to express their concerns.
Ms Rower said Illawarra Birders would spend part of World Wetlands Day on Saturday, February 2, in the Shellharbour Swamp area, which is near the playing fields running along Boollwarroo Parade in Shellharbour.
"We will spend two hours from 9am enjoying the birds found in this area and people are welcome to join us," Ms Rower said.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said this was an excellent outcome for the continuation of this significant infrastructure project and the immediate needs of these particular birds ahead of their migration.
Cr Saliba said the placement of the three-metre-high earth bund wall, which would act as a sound barrier and provide for the diversion of stormwater around the construction site, was required as a condition of the boat harbour's development consent.
"I am pleased that we have been able to oblige these birds that are visiting the site, and the responsiveness of the contractors and our development partners and approving authorities in finding a solution to this matter," Cr Saliba said.