Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Musselcatchers

The name doesn't quite have the same 'ring' about it as Oystercatchers, but at this time of year, both of our species of Oicks, may be seen feeding on mussels. I'm not sure whether any of this World wide group of birds, actually eats oysters as a prime food source. I believe in England, where they were probably first named, their main food is cockles, which begs the question, why they were dubbed 'oystercatchers'!
At this time of year, there is a bigger than usual tidal range, at least locally, and at the low point of the tide, expanses of the shore and rocks not normally seen, are exposed. Among the 'winners'
are the oystercatchers.
These accompanying images were shot on my almost daily 'constitutional', that encompasses the Second Bluff at Bellerive, a spot I look forward to, just to enjoy the various shorebirds that mainly use this area as a roost.

5 comments:

John Tongue said...

Hi Alan,
Were both these shots taken at Bellerive? We've seldom seen the Sooty Oystercatchers in the Derwent Estuary. Most we've seen are around Dover, or in the North of the State, and a few in other spots. Nice to think there might be a few more coming into proximity of Suburban Hobart.

BirdingTas said...

Hi John,
They were indeed both shot at the same site, but not actually on the same day. Sooty Oystercatchers, regularly visit this area, year round at low tide. The Pieds, rather more spasmodically, but venture up river beyond the Tasman Bridge. Both species usually only occur in small groups upto c.10.

Mona Loofs-Samorzewski said...

I've always wondered about their name too, I couldn't believe they could get into oysters - even with their beautiful long beaks. It's hard enough with a dedicated steel oyster knife, a leather glove (and a glass of white wine). I'd be quite happy to call them 'Musselcatcher' from now on.

John Tongue said...

I agree, though they'd need to be pretty tough to get into the Mussels, too - which also go well with a nice glass of white wine. I guess at least with the Mussels they can prize one loose and then smash it against rock to get at it. Can't imagine anything prizing an oyster 'loose', so it looks like "Musselcatchers" it is.

BirdingTas said...

I think you'll find that they attack the muscle of the mussel with a chiselling action. Presumably perfected over many years!