A few weeks ago I introduced you to the first pair of Pied Oystercatchers to start to breed this year. It is earlier than other years, but now some of the other pairs of Pied Oystercatchers have started to nest. Broome’s Cable Beach has become a lot busier over recent weeks. It is school holidays now and many people have travelled north to enjoy sun, sea and sand. Western Australia still has closed borders, but there has been a lot of movement around the state.

Vehicles are permitted to drive onto Cable Beach in an area north of the rocks. The speed limit is restricted to 15km/hr for everybody’s safety and you are asked to keep vehicle impact to a minimum. There are signs asking you not to go above the high tide mark as in the header photo. There are good reasons for this rule. It protects nesting shorebirds year round. It also protects nesting turtles, which nest later in the year. The vehicle access is closed around the biggest high tides when the turtles are nesting to protect them and their nest sites.

Pied Oystercatcher flying in front of the sign

In recent weeks there has been little regard for the signage and vehicles have gone over the back of the dunes. The pair of Pied Oystercatchers that nest in this area patrol the area, but there is not a lot they can do when vehicles come into their nesting area.

Vehicle tracks behind the dune system in the nesting area

This pair of Pied Oystercatchers bred successfully last year and had five years earlier. They prefer to nest on sand, but other Pied Oystercatchers always choose a rocky outcrop to nest on.

Pied Oystercatcher near the nest

We have to hope that vehicles stop driving beyond the high tide mark and that the eggs hatch out in twenty eight days’ time. The nest site has been used in previous years and if it fails they will lay a second clutch of eggs. Depending on the reason for the nest failure they will nest either there or at a nearby location.

Pied Oystercatcher nest on the sand

Another pair of Pied Oystercatchers closer to Gantheaume Point have laid their eggs. They have always nested in the same place and like a nest with a view. The nest site they choose is always on the grey rocky outcrop overlooking the beach. They are the only pair of Pied Oystercatchers that we know of in the Broome area that have successfully raised three chicks and that was in 2014. They do not need to worry about vehicles at the nest site. However, they do need to pass through a section of beach to get to Gantheaume Point that vehicles use. They have always made the journey successfully and we believe it is done at night by the tracks we have followed over the years.

Pied Oystercatcher nest with a view

I appreciate you maybe can’t see the Pied Oystercatcher eggs in the above photo. I have circled them for you in the photo below and then you can see where they are in subsequent photos.

Pied Oystercatcher nest

As you can see, there is quite a variation in the colour of the eggs in both pairs of Pied Oystercatchers. This is not unusual at all and there have been completely white eggs laid some years. On occasions when you see the first egg laid and then the subsequent egg they are easily identified apart. The first egg laid is not necessarily the first egg to hatch.

Cable Beach is a beautiful beach as you can clearly see. If you do need to take your vehicle onto the beach then please respect the signage! Let’s give our resident shorebirds half a chance!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!