WILDLIFE rescuers hope to save more than 200 egret chicks rescued after a massive storm destroyed their breeding colony at the Lawrence swamp.

The storm hit late Thursday, trashing the breeding colony of up to 1000 pairs of birds and killing hundreds of chicks and leaving hundreds more lying on the ground.

Nearby residents Elizabeth Parker and Tim Watson were the first on the scene where they found dead and injured birds and smashed eggs everywhere.

The couple gathered up as many birds as they could and took them back to Ms Parker's house, overlooking the wetland.

Ms Parker, a former WIRES member, quickly mobilised the Clarence Valley chapter to deal with the traumatised birds.

 

The team of WIRES rescuers from the Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers branches with one of more than 200 egret chicks rescued after Thursday's storm at Lawrence devastated the breeding colony.
The team of WIRES rescuers from the Clarence Valley and Northern Rivers branches with one of more than 200 egret chicks rescued after Thursday's storm at Lawrence devastated the breeding colony. Tim Howard

"A lot of the birds were wet and shivering so we took them inside, dried them and tried to keep them warm," Ms Parker said.

WIRES members yesterday triaged the birds into those with a chance of survival, branchlings and nestlings.

Birds considered strong enough to return to the colony were put back in the trees where they were found.

"We were told the parent birds recognised the calls of their young and would be able to find them," Ms Parker said.

"From what we saw, it looked like the adult birds were flying back to their nesting trees. We're hoping they'll find their young ones and look after them."

 

Clarence Valley WIRES chairman Tony Bowman with the only injured adult egret at the colony.
Clarence Valley WIRES chairman Tony Bowman with the only injured adult egret at the colony. Tim Howard

Ms Parker said the breeding area had become stressed as nesting trees had died off.

"It's just come up for sale and it would be great if someone who bought it could revegetate the area and bring it back to what it was like a decade ago," she said.