The Oystercatcher is a large black and white wading bird with a long, thin, orange-red beak which is quite pointed. It can be found all around the coasts of England on rocky beaches, shingle beaches, on muddy and sandy shores, on the banks of rivers, on the shores of large lakes and sometimes on gravel pits and heathlands. It is sometimes known as the Common Pied.
The Oystercatcher’s top part of the body, head and neck are a black colour and its chest and belly are white. Its wings are mainly black with white feathers on the outer edges. It has two distinct orange-red eyes and two long, pinky coloured legs and feet. The Oystercatcher is the only wading bird that can open a mussel or cockle with its beak. It also eats crabs and lugworms.
Oystercatcher pairs often take part in a ‘piping’ ritual when they want to defend their feeding grounds. The ritual consists of both Oystercatchers bowing their heads up and down with their beaks facing the ground while making long, high-pitched piping sounds. The shrill piping sounds are often directed to their neighbours. Sometimes they chase their neighbours or intruders away, but border disputes very rarely end up in fighting.
Sponsored by: Lynda Allis, Wirksworth