Shorebird's thoughts turning to breeding

With only six breeding pairs of Pied Oystercatchers known in the Byron area, recent observations of a pair courting at Tallow Beach points positively to the coming shorebird breeding season.

Pied oystercatcher

Jan Olley from Byron Bird Buddies said as winter winds down we are now entering the nesting season period for several important resident shorebird species which need our help.

"Everyone can do their part to help the survival of these species and the easiest way to help is simply to avoid disturbing them," Jan said.

"This includes the endangered Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris), of which two pairs have nested at Belongil Beach since 2004 and another four at Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve.

"The courting pair at Tallow Beach have the potential to nest this year if they are not disturbed."

"People need to be particularly aware when visiting Belongil, Brunswick and Tallow Beaches and estuaries as between August and January, these birds create camouflaged nests which usually containing two eggs.

"The birds are also very sensitive to any disturbance by people or dogs and the nests are at high risk of being damaged by dogs, foxes, cats, 4WDs and trampling.

"Chicks or eggs can be accidentally crushed, or frightened adults can be displaced from nests for long periods of time leaving the eggs or young susceptible to over-heating, over-cooling or predation.

"Many migratory shorebirds such as the Eastern Curlew, Pacific Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit also need to use the shoreline as a resting and feeding refuge so that they can survive their long journeys from the northern hemisphere.

"The volunteers from Byron Bird Buddies have been busy at work fencing nesting areas, erecting signage for the public, and doing bird surveys at key habitat sites.

"NPWS conducts annual fox control efforts near Belongil Beach and within Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve to coincide with the shorebird breeding season.

"People can help conserve these important species by following information on the signs, keeping away from fenced areas and keeping dogs within designated dog exercise areas," Ms Olley said.

Information on the designated dog exercise beaches at Brunswick Heads, Belongil and Tallow/Suffolk beaches can be found at: Animal exercise areas - Byron Shire Council. NPWS thanks all beach goers who are already making effort to avoid disturbing the birds.

For additional information on the Byron Bird Buddies and how you can help see: Byron Bird Buddies.

Find out more information on threatened shorebirds at Threatened species.