Help make chicks' survival a shore thing

The first eggs of an endangered shorebird, the Pied Oystercatcher, have been spotted at Harrington Beach by 2 local beach goers, prompting an appeal for the community help to protect beach nesting birds this coming breeding season.

Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris), Harrington Beach

Local residents Karen Thompson and Keith Richardson spotted two Pied Oystercatcher eggs in a shallow scrape in the sand at Harrington. They alerted the local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and MidCoast Council so the eggs can be protected.

Local NPWS Ranger Mandy Smith said that each year, Pied Oystercatchers and endangered little terns lay their eggs on the Harrington, Manning Point and Farquhar Inlet beaches.

Over the last 2 years predation from foxes, damage by 4-wheel-drives driving above the high tide mark and disturbance from people and dogs have proved deadly for eggs and chicks.

"We're appealing to our community to help save these birds and their chicks during their breeding season," Ms Smith said.

"As the weather starts to get warmer, we will have an influx of visitors arriving to our beaches and national parks, and it is important to be mindful of the wildlife and threatened species that call our beaches and parks home."

Within 24 hours, workers from NPWS and MidCoast Council assisted by Karen and Keith had constructed a temporary fence around the nesting site of the Pied Oystercatcher to protect the eggs from beachgoers and 4-wheel-drivers.

"Four-wheel-driving is a popular pastime on the NSW mid-north coast and it is important for drivers to obey the rules of their beach driving permit which stipulates, driving remains between high and low tide marks," Karen Bettink, Catchment Officer for MidCoast Council said.

MidCoast Council are also working with Taree Indigenous Development Employment (TIDE) to repair and install the fence at Farquhar to protect breeding areas.

NPWS, MidCoast Council and the Saving our Species program are urging beach users to 'share the shore' with beach-nesting birds by following these simple tips:

  • Stay out of the fenced off areas and look out for signs warning of unfenced nesting sites.
  • Keep control of dogs and keep them out of fenced areas and other dog exclusion zones.
  • If you see eggs or chicks outside of the fenced areas at any of the locations, please contact MidCoast Council.
  • Keep our beaches clean – shorebirds can get tangled in fishing line or mistake plastic for food.
  • Next time you're at the beach, pick up a few pieces of rubbish. It might make all the difference to endangered shorebirds.

To find out more visit: Share the Shore – MidCoast Council or stop by the Shorebirds stall at the Old Bar Kombi Festival on 29-30 September.

Photos for media: OEH Flickr – Pied Oystercatcher, Harrington