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Bad eggs disturb endangered shorebirds

Eurobodalla Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service are encouraging residents and visitors to give endangered shorebirds a break after an at-risk pair on Narooma’s Lewis Island was disturbed, and eggs from a South Durras nest taken, this month.

Pied oystercatchers are listed as endangered in NSW and there are just 200 breeding pairs left state-wide – 50 of them on the south coast.

A pair calling Lewis Island home has been together for the past seven years and successfully raised a number of chicks, despite the relatively urban location. An egg they laid earlier this season was lost a couple of weeks ago, probably to a dog or a fox. The pair was expected to try again before the breeding season ends in January, but rowdy and poor behaviour has impacted the sensitive birds.

Council’s natural resource management supervisor Heidi Thomson said that on the night of Friday 9 October a group had a party on the island until 1am, leaving behind a mess of cans and rubbish inside the threatened shorebird roped area.

“No fires are permitted on the island, but they burned the signs, with fence posts found in the fire remains,” Ms Thomson said.

“In the same week a car was driven into the water next to the island and was subsequently hauled out.”

Ms Thomson said the recent disturbances meant the pair probably wouldn’t lay another egg for a few weeks.

“This means they have only four weeks to hatch their chick, and another four weeks to fledge the chick, before the busy summer period,” she said.

Meanwhile earlier this month unknown offenders took pied oystercatcher eggs from three nesting sites in Durras, disconnecting electric fences around the sites to gain access. Environmental volunteer group Friends of Durras has since installed surveillance cameras to protect the remaining eggs.

Ms Thomson said pied oyster catchers were very susceptible to disturbance – it’s one of the reasons they’re endangered.

“We don’t want to fence off large areas of the beach from the community, instead we are trying to ‘share the shoreline’ with the birds by reducing disturbance,” she said.

“We really need the community to pay attention to shorebird nesting signs, always leash dogs near shorebird nesting areas, and walk on wet sand where possible as shorebirds use the sand above the high tide mark and the dune systems to nest.

“If we don’t do our best to minimise disturbance we will lose them from our beaches forever.”

For more information on the South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program, including a wealth of video resources, head to

Above: A pair of endangered pied oystercatchers that call Narooma’s Lewis Island home has been disturbed following rowdy behaviour on the island.

Above: Pied oystercatchers are listed as endangered in NSW, with 200 breeding pairs left state-wide. Photo: Leo Berzins.

Above: A pair of endangered pied oystercatchers has been breeding on Narooma’s Lewis Island for the past seven years.

Above: On the night of Friday 9 October a group had a party on the island until 1am, leaving behind a mess of cans and rubbish inside the threatened shorebird roped area.

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