Endangered seabirds nest successfully on Deeban Spit with help of volunteers

A pair of endangered migratory pied oystercatcher seabirds have successfully nested on Deeban Spit - the first time this has happened on a public beach in Sydney for about a quarter of a century.

A group of volunteers at Maianbar, who have been working towards this goal for four years, looked after the egg for 30 days and the chick for the following eight to nine weeks.

Group leader Julie Keating said it was a major accomplishment at a time when Sutherland Shire Council was reconsidering going back on its recommendation to the state government that boating and anchoring be banned from Deeban Spit.

Nesting of wendangered seabirds on Deeban Spit in Port Hacking. Video: Julie Keating

Ms Keating said nesting seabirds faced many threats, but "the stars aligned" to produce the success over Christmas-New Year, despite there being many visitors to the area.

During daylight hours, the volunteers stood by a fenced, signed area where the birds were nesting, engaging with people, including dog owners, who came near, telling them what was happening and steering them around the site.

A Sutherland Shire Council Bushcare group moved the fence when the birds moved after the nesting.

Ms Keating said threats to the birds came from ravens and gulls, foxes, dogs, deer and disturbance by people engaged in normal activities such as walking, fishing, kayaking or boating.

Large tides and big swells were also a problem.

Ms Keating said the volunteers had learnt a lot over the four years and so too, it appeared, had the birds.

"The first year, a fox came straight in to the nest and out with no signs of the parent birds trying to distract it," she said.

"The second year, one egg was taken by a fox and another by a raven.

"Nature intervened the third year when, just before the birds were about to nest, two kings tides washed out the site.

"By this year I could see the parent birds had engaged with the fox on a number of nights to lead it away from where the chick was.

"The ravens also had a nest directly overlooking the nesting birds, but instead of chasing the raven as they had done in the past, they just let it wander by.

"Normally, when birds chase ravens it indicates to the raven that there may be a nest with eggs to raid."

Ms Keating said, four days after hatching, the chick faced the worst November east coast low experienced in Sydney in 34 years.

"It was a nail biting night for us, waiting for the dawn to be able to go down to the nest  area," she said.

"We experienced the most amazing sight of the little chick and parents pecking away for food on the tidal flats, safe and sound."