Rare migratory shorebirds are drawing birders from across the state to the region.
The buff-breasted sandpiper and the long-toed stint have been spotted at Lake Wollumboola, near Nowra, after making the long journey south from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Siberia.
Terrill Nordstrom, the president of Illawarra Birders, said it was only the second time these birds had been sighted in the region.
Mr Nordstrom said Lake Wollumboola had also seen a number of uncommon shorebirds recently, including the curlew sandpiper and the broad-billed sandpiper.
These birds usually migrated south for the southern hemisphere summer, he said, but they did not usually travel as far as Australia, with the exception of the curlew sandpiper.
Mr Nordstrom said they might have come to Australia this season simply because they would sometimes get mixed up in and fly with other flocks.
He said the sightings of these rare birds had attracted birdwatchers from Sydney, Newcastle and other parts of the state, bringing in tourist dollars.
Were it not for the pandemic, Mr Nordstrom said interstate visitors would have also come to the region.
He said Lake Wollumboola was one of the most important shorebird lakes around, and rare bird species were regularly seen there.
Mr Nordstrom said many of the shorebirds were threatened or endangered now.
Protection of their habitat was vital, he said, but on an everyday basis, individuals could help by keeping their dogs under control on beaches, not littering, and giving birds a wide berth.
Passion for birds leads to book
Terrill Nordstrom has been observing birds for the past 50 years.
Now, he has funnelled his knowledge into a book, A Guide to Birdlife of the Illawarra Region of NSW, which documents the 440 bird species recorded in the region, as well as birding locations and tips on getting into birdwatching.
Mr Nordstrom said he thought there was a need for a new book; a guide was written years ago, but was out of date.
He sourced the information from his own expertise, acquired over the 17 years he had been birding in the region, and an online resource called eBird.
The photographs in the book were mostly taken by other local birders.
"I've always been interested in birds - I'm 65 now, I started recording birds when I was 15," Mr Nordstrom said.
For Mr Nordstrom, the joy of birdwatching comes from the beauty of the animals and the challenge of finding certain species.
"They're just nice things to have around," he said.
When asked to choose a favourite, he said it was hard - "every bird in its own right is nice".
But if he had to choose, Mr Nordstrom said, it would be the lyrebird, which was found in the Illawarra.
"They're just spectacular, they really are something special," he said, adding they were "uniquely Australian".
Mr Nordstrom's book is available through Illawarra Birders, which will receive a donation from the sale of each copy for conservation work.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.