|Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Oystercatchers form large flocks during the winter and this first photo at Musselburgh shows part of such a flock. Musselburgh normally has over 2,000 birds during the winter. While a large number of birds are resident breeders in Britain, their numbers are swollen during the winter with migrants from Iceland and Norway.
|The Eurasian Oystercatcher is the only Oystercatcher which has a winter plumage. Its most noticeable feature is a
white chinstrap which is visible in the flying bird in the second photo.
Oystercatchers feed on bivalves, worms and insect larvae but rarely, if ever, on fish.
|The bill structure of the Oystercatcher differs by sex with the male having a blunter, shorter and more robust bill than the female. Studies in England showed that the main prey of the male tends to be mussels while females prefer smaller cockles. Techniques can also differ between hammering a shell open or prising it open. The hammerers tend to have blunter tips to their bills and adult birds transmit their foraging techniques to their young.
|The 4th photo shows a juvenile carrying a cockle in its
bill. The juvenile's plumage is browny-black, the white wing-bars are less well-defined and the tip of the bill is dark as can be seen in the 5th
The nest is a shallow scrape normally in open vegetation. The three eggs seen in the 6th photo is the typical clutch.
|There are illustrations in HBW, Volume 3, Page 313, 315, 318 and 321.
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