Shorebird season

The pied oystercatcher is one of the species of shorebirds that will nest at local beaches this spring, with beach visitors urged to take care to avoid the high-tide mark. Photos courtesy of Birdlife Tasmania’s Eric Woehler. [Below] The hooded plover and the hooded plover’s eggs in a nest. Photos courtesy of Arthur River Field Centre’s Dale Crosswell.

Nesting. As Circular Head locals ready themselves for the warmer months, so too do our resident shorebirds.

Spring sees the shorebird breeding season begin, running from now until the end of April, with nesting happening above the high-tide mark at most local beaches.

Birds that fit into this category include hooded plovers, pied and sooty oystercatchers, pacific gulls and red-capped plovers.

Acting ranger in charge of Parks and Wildlife Service’s Arthur River Field Office, Gary Cole, said people visiting the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area are likely to experience nesting shorebirds over the coming months.

Gary said when visiting local beaches during shorebird nesting season, it is important to walk – or drive where permitted – on solid sand areas and keep to the low-tide mark where possible, safely away from nesting zones.

“From there you can watch the shorebirds move around, feeding and nurturing their young,” he said.

Some shorebirds are migratory, flying up to 20,000 kilometres to enjoy our summer climate, mate and fledge their young before returning to the Northern Hemisphere.

This amazing migration means that the birds need to use every ounce of energy for feeding rather than running away from disturbances such as people, dogs and cars.

Migrating species include: fairy, crested and caspian terns, sanderlings, dotterels, curlews, ruddy turnstones, sandpipers and stints, to name a few.

The most recent shorebird nesting data reveals the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area is home to 20 per cent of Tasmania’s shorebird population.

“This is unfortunately a growing percentage of the national resident species, sadly declining elsewhere,” Gary said.

“If you find yourself on the west coast’s beautiful beaches and see any shorebirds, please come into Parks’ Arthur River office and pass on your experience as the more we get to know about shorebirds, the better these threatened species can be protected.”

It is recommended that dogs are kept on leashes in areas where shorebirds are nesting.

To learn more about shorebirds, pop into the Arthur River Field Centre or phone 6457 1225. For online information about shorebirds, visit

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