Sooty Oystercatchers, Victor Harbor
Seeing oystercatchers always delights me. In Australia we have two main species of this family of birds: the Sooty Oystercatcher shown here and the Pied Oystercatcher. There is a third much rarer species, the South Island Pied Oystercatcher, an occasional vagrant from New Zealand. This is one for the experts; I don’t have the skills to pick the difference.
Both species of oystercatchers are found around the entire coast line of Australia where there is suitable habitat. They prefer undisturbed sandy or pebble beaches, estuaries, mudflats and the like. They tend to be found only in small numbers; single birds, pairs or small loose flocks up to about 20 birds. They tend to be wary and not easily approached.
They make a nest on the ground, a shallow hollow in the sand or in in seaweed. I am not sure whether the bird shown below was nesting or just resting and sheltering from the cold wind. Like many oystercatchers they probably nest on the islands a short distance from this point on Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor.
Pied Oystercatchers are more common than their Sooty cousins in Australia.