Oystercatchers make their home at busy recycling centre

This story was published 8 July 2019

A healthy oystercatcher chick has taken its first steps at one of North Yorkshire’s busy household waste recycling centres.

The oystercatcher

Oblivious to the dangers of their new home, a family of oystercatchers spent their days among the rubble. Two large, camouflaged eggs were in the open. Unfortunately only one hatched.

“It was lovely to know that such beautiful birds had chosen our HWRC to lay some eggs, they are truly stunning birds with amazing qualities,” said James Emmett, HWRC team leader. “For a few days we had around six more oystercatchers on site, flying round together, it was beautiful to watch.”

The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. The breed is listed as vulnerable by the RSPB.

When a member of the public caught sight of the new arrivals, staff at Harrogate West household waste recycling centre immediately cordoned off the area around eggs.

“A few days earlier we had noticed birds circling the site but had no idea their eggs were laying in one of our skips,” added James. “Our officers were then called to action, quickly cordoning off the area and sheeting the skip. All staff members made sure they were not disturbed, advising customers to be as vigilant as possible.”

The family stayed in the skip for around a month before the chick hatched and they vacated the premises. In that time they created quite a stir with staff and centre users.

James said: “A few members of staff have young children who were overly excited about them, constantly asking for photos and asking about their wellbeing. 

“The majority of customers that visit our HWRC were intrigued and amazed by the family of birds, constantly asking for permission to take photos – it’s like they are part of our family now. Personally, I think that the customers came up to see the birds, not just to dispose of their waste!”

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Waste Management, said: “This was an incredibly rare situation and unprecedented in one of our recycling centres.

“I am delighted with the way our officers reacted to the situation and carried out the appropriate measures to ensure the nesting birds were safe and undisturbed. We also want to thank the public for understanding the need to cordon off the area where they were residing.”