Threatened Pied Oystercatcher nests on South Ballina Beach from August to January
Pied Oystercatchers are listed as a "vulnerable species" in New South Wales. The South Ballina to Bundjalung National Park area supports between 30-70 birds with numbers fluctuating annually. This is up to a quarter of the total state population of 250 birds. There are 25-30 breeding pairs of Pier Oystercatchers in this area, however, breeding success is low. The 17 breeding pairs on South Ballina beach are very significant for the preservation of the species.
The Pied Oystercatcher breeds in pairs from August to January each year (earlier in the north of Australia). A breeding territory of some 200metres is formed and is defended by both birds. Nesting takes place on sand, shell grit or shingle just above high water mark on beaches, sandbars, margins of estuaries and lagoons. The two or three eggs are well-camouflaged, being pale brown with darker brown and black blotches and streaks. Both sexes share parenting duties.
How can you help protect this endangered species?
We have been working closely with the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the Department of Lands to develop a Management Strategy to improve the successful fledging of the birds and preserve the pristine condition of the beach. The draft Management Strategy recommends Horse riding and Four Wheel Driving be restricted to the inter-tidal zone below the high water mark. This means a little planning is required before you venture onto the beach each day. During your stay we will provide you with a tide chart to assist you in planning the best time to horse ride and drive on the beach. Please ensure pets do not roam on the beach, particularly at night. Domestic animals should be kept on leads at all times.
How does this affect your beach ride?
To ensure our presence on the beach does not damage any nests, when you book we check the tides and choose a mutually suitable time, in this way we ride on the inter-tidal zone of the beach and not on the dunes or near the foot of the dune where the birds nest. As a general rule we are not allowed to ride within 10 meters of the base of the sand dunes during nesting season.