Saturday, 12 April 2014

Oystercatchers at the Beach

It is autumn and there are four noisy variable oystercatchers on our beach. These are the parent birds photographed in spring. Now they have two teenagers hanging out with them. The younger birds still need their parents help to get enough food. It is quite an art to cracking open a shells with their beak and the young ones have to learn how to do this.

Oystercatchers are bigger than the blackbirds you see in the garden and also bigger than the red-billed gulls that you might see on the beach. The adults bright orange beaks make them easy to identify when you see them. But often you'll hear them first, making a loud shrill 'kleep, kleep, kleep" as they fly across the beach. 

My favourite bird website NZBirdsOnline has recordings of bird calls, so before you go to the beach, listen to their call on the website and see if you can hear them at the beach. 

It was a delight as I was tramping around Stewart Island in the summer, to see a pair of adult variable oystercatchers on every beach I came to. But only one pair, because each pair has its own territory. This pair was resting on Smoky Beach, their lovely bright beaks tucked in close.
Smoky Beach, Stewart Island

Ned and I included variable oystercatchers in At the Beach.