Eighty Mile Beach is located between Broome and Port Hedland and is a remote coastline. It is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia and is 220 kilometres long. The distance from Broome to Port Hedland is over 600 kilometres and is our closest town to the south. Access to the beach is along a ten kilometre gravel road from the main highway 365 kilometres south of Broome. There is a caravan park at the beach if you want to stay a while. New signage has been installed at the beach in recent years. It contains information about the resident and migratory shorebirds and also the Flatback turtles that nest along the coastline. It is great to see that Pied Oystercatchers are mentioned!

Turtle nesting information

A few weeks ago we decided to go and see if the resident Pied Oystercatchers at Eighty Mile Beach had been successful at breeding this season. Following the success of one fully fledged Pied Oystercatcher here in Broome we wanted to be optimistic. We decided to walk the two kilometres north from the caravan park beach entrance. In a year when we all need a good news story I am happy to report that there had been an exceptional breeding season. We found five pairs of Pied Oystercatchers. Two pairs had two almost fully fledged chicks, two pairs had one almost fully fledged chick and the other pair were nesting. No doubt that would have been a second clutch by the date. So, to find six almost fully fledged Pied Oystercatchers belonging to four pairs of Pied Oystercatchers was the highlight of our visit! By the size and plumage we believe them to be the same age as the Broome Pied Oystercatcher chick.

The distinctive features of the juvenile Pied Oystercatchers at this stage of development are the legs being grey rather than red. The bill also has a dark tip. Otherwise they appear to be almost as large as the parent. Here are some of the photos I took of the families of Pied Oystercatchers.

Juvenile Pied Oystercatcher being independent

Juvenile Pied Oystercatcher with parent

Two juvenile and two adult Pied Oystercatchers

Juvenile Pied Oystercatcher with its parents

Pied Oystercatchers finding food together

Pied Oystercatcher adult with poor camouflage!

It is good to know that the survival rate of Pied Oystercatcher chicks has been good this season at Eighty Mile Beach.

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!