RECYCLING centre workers received a delivery they were not expecting among heaps of waste and rubble when a member of the public spotted something out of the ordinary.

Despite being surrounded by sharp rocks, bricks and stones, two fragile oystercatcher eggs somehow rumbled along a conveyor belt and into a skip without sustaining a single crack to their shells.

The two large, speckled eggs were seen by a resident dropping off household waste at the centre that usually collects furniture, garden waste, tyres and chemicals.

However, the coastal birds were more than at home in their new surroundings at the North Yorkshire recycling centre.

James Emmett, team leader at the tip, said: “A few days earlier we had noticed birds circling the site but had no idea their eggs were laying in one of our skips.

“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 oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird listed as vulnerable by the RSPB. At the coast, they are often at the mercy of the availability of their diet, which includes cockles, mussels and worms.

Staff were able to keep an eye on the feathered family for around a month before one chick hatched. Sadly, the second egg remained unhatched.

“It was lovely to know that such beautiful birds had chosen our Harrogate West Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) to lay some eggs, they are truly stunning birds with amazing qualities,” added Mr Emmett.

“For a few days we had around six more oystercatchers on site, flying round together, it was beautiful to watch.”

During their stay, the oystercatchers caused quite a stir with staff and centre users alike.

Mr Emmett 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.

“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: “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.”