Byron Bird Buddies (BBB) is a volunteer community group, involved with avifauna monitoring, conservation and education in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia, since 2004. The group operates under the auspices of Brunswick Valley Landcare as an avian locality group. BBB conservation and monitoring activities are generally focused in Byron Shire with some education activities extending to surrounding shires of the Northern Rivers and Clarence Valley.
Originally a small group, BBB was started in the 1970’s by a Byron Bay local named Jack Willows to protect the diversity of the Belongil Estuary as a shorebird feeding and breeding area. Jack started Brunswick Valley Bird Watchers but he also monitored and tagged birds at the Belongil Estuary. Belongil BBB started in 2003 to address management concerns, at that time, Byron Bay was a sleepy little holiday town and not the international tourist destination that it has become today.
Little Terns have bred at the estuary in large numbers in the past but in the 1980’s Jack identified that the birds were in decline due to increased human impact on the estuary, this specie has not bred at the Belongil estuary since 1991. Conservation measures have been put in place by BBB to promote the estuary mouth as a ‘safe’ and protected area of the estuary. Pied Oyster-catchers and Red-capped Plovers both breed in the fenced areas; small flocks of Little Terns, Crested Terns, Pacific Golden Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits can be seen resting within the fenced areas. Striated Herons, Osprey and Beach-stone Curlews feed or breed within the first 300m of the estuary mouth, other birds use the Belongil estuary’s mudflats to feed at low tide, including waterbirds breeding at the West Byron Wetlands such as the Black-necked Stork, Black Swan, Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills etc. Byron Bird Buddies hopes one day to see the return of breeding pairs of Little Tern at the Belongil Estuary.