Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surprise, Surprise

When Will and I found the Oystercatcher nest near our ringing location a while ago we obviously misjudged how long the adults had been at it, because their behaviour took me by surprise today when it quickly became obvious they had young in tow. I spent what seemed ages seeking out the chicks scattered across the furrowed, short, grassy field, but eventually there was no doubt, just one chick three or four days old at most. Like all wader chicks, those of Oystercatchers are nidifugous i.e. they are born with their eyes open and leave the nest shortly after hatching when they are also capable of walking and able to feed themselves. (The word nidifugous derives from Latin, nidus for "nest" and fugere meaning "to flee).

Many wader parents do not feed their chicks, but Oystercatchers do, and today I watched one of the adults do so. As both adults tended the young, one flew off and returned about fitfeen minutes later with a small item of food between the tips of its mandibles, calling as it landed near the youngster. With bill pointed down the adult waited for the chick’s approach before it dropped the morsel in front of the youngster for it to find, which it duly did. A little disappointing to ring just one Oystercatcher and it always leaves a question mark as to what happened to the other two or three eggs.

Oystercatcher chick


I’d gone to the plantation to have a mosey round and to put up the newly cleaned niger feeders in preparation for the arrival of hungry autumn finches. So whilst I watched the oyks, wandered about a bit, and found suitable branches for the feeders I found a sheltered spot for a net, but caught little save for a 3J Coal Tit, and a couple of Whitethroats and Willow Warblers.

Coal Tit

Another unexpected was a male Willow Warbler well into its main moult on so early a date, 21st June only. This was a new, un-ringed Willow Warbler for the site so had probably arrived from elsewhere to moult, possibly a failed or non-breeding bird.

Willow Warbler – main moult

Willow Warbler


My searching about didn’t reveal much else, Jay, Buzzard, Blackcap, several Goldfinches, a Skylark, and a sunny day but distant Little Owl

Little Owl


Paco Sales said...

La verdad Phil, consigues unas capturas preciosas, con unos colores bellísimos y una gran nitidez, admiro tu trabajo, recibe un abrazo amigo Phil

Chris said...

Hi Phil,
I've also seen baby oystercatchers today and they were the first one of the season I think... Nice pictures once again..

Kay L. Davies said...

A shame about the other Oystercatcher eggs, Phil. The chick you ringed looks very bright and alert.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

grammie g said...

Hi Phil...had to run the headlights on the mower,but I got it done...Taking picture is no fun after dark hahaha!!
That little chick is a fluff ball with a beek!! Very interesting about the way they are born with eyes open and ready to go!!
Kept up the good work Phil, and I'll keep mowing!!

JWBateman said...

Hi Phil: I may finally have cracked it,keep up the good work.JWBateman.

Gallicissa said...

Nice to see how the baby Oystercatchers look. We don't get them breeding over here. And thank you for nidifugous. A tough scrabble word to make, but I guess not impossible. :)

Love that Little Owl too.

Phil said...

Cheers everyone, and John yes you did, I got three comments from you.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

One Oystercatcher young is better than no Oystercatcher young, say that 3 times real fast;) I am so glad that you were able to find the young one, what a fuzzy youngster too. Yes, I know the feeling when the eggs are lost, what must have happened, always such a waste~

Dave said...

A very fluffy fellow, but sorry to hear he may have been the only one.

Great set of photos. Dave

Stu said...

NICE BIF of the Oystercatcher Phil........

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