Regular readers will know that we keep an eye on our resident and migratory shorebirds all year around. At this time of year we are on the lookout for the start of breeding season in Pied Oystercatchers. I have written plenty about Pied Oystercatchers over the years!  The nest sites will look very familiar if you look back over the years, because they use the same nest site each year. They use the same nest site for subsequent clutches if any fail during the breeding season. We have noticed a substantial shift of sand around some nest sites this year, but it has not deterred them from breeding in their preferred location.

We normally encounter our first Pied Oystercatcher nest with eggs in it around the first week of July. In 2016 one pair of Pied Oystercatchers laid an egg early on June 11th. This year one pair of Pied Oystercatchers had their first egg on June 12th. We were not expecting to see any eggs and I only had my phone with me to capture the images. It was almost sunset around 5pm. The footprints back and forth to the nest site were very obvious and this is normal.

The first egg laid

The Pied Oystercatchers do not spend all of the day on the nest initially and when the tide is out they have a huge area to feed on the beach as you can see from the header photo. There is plenty of blue sky at the moment and we have about seven months or more without rain each year in Broome. Both Pied Oystercatchers share incubation duties over the twenty eight days before the chicks hatch. They were both on the beach feeding. The female Pied Oystercatcher had a bit of a shake after getting wet in the sea and they wandered back up to the nest site.

Pied Oystercatchers heading back to the nest

Returning late on June 13th we were pleased to observe a second egg had been laid. We are rather concerned by the bicycle tracks in the dune system, but hopefully the riders won’t run over the eggs. Some nest sites are on the sand and not the rock outcrops, so they would be more at risk from cyclists on fat tyre bikes.

Pied Oystercatcher nest with two eggs

We have returned briefly to check that they have not laid a third egg, which is very rare in Broome. There are still two eggs and although this pair has not been successful for many years at least they are attempting to breed. On windy days all of the footprints blow away. We prefer days like that, because it offers some camouflage to the nest.

Pied Oystercatcher nest with two eggs

We will now observe the Pied Oystercatcher nest from a distance. Hopefully we will soon have some chicks hatch out. There are several other Pied Oystercatchers that we will be checking on over coming days and weeks. The closest pair to this pair have made a scrape, but not laid eggs yet. It is in the same location as other years, so not hard to find.

It is now perfect weather for walking long distances on our local beaches and enjoying nature.

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!