Nature Diary: Oystercatchers

The call of the Oystercatcher brings happiness to my ears, not because it is the most gold-throated of all the ornithological kingdom but because it contains notes of joy.

Listen here

Such a small cheep yet it drives me hunting for the pied critters foraging mussels and clams among the rocks.

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Not far from my home lives a colony of 10 that spend their days napping on pale smooth boulders with a £million view of Drakes’ Island and The Sound.

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My favourite sport is slipping up to them as they sleep, skulking along the waterline occasionally being splashed by passing waves. They open their red eyes, orange beaks still tucked under their wings, and watch me as my shutter clangs away.

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They seem to accept my present to within 40ft but will sleepily hop onto the next rock if my presence becomes boresome. I have no desire to push them and retreat back from whence I came when too many of them begin to wake up.

I remember the first time I saw a flock of these charismatic little birds foraging on a granite stack far out to sea as waves crashed against it. I feel grateful that I have discovered a family of them near my patch.

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