Monday, November 09, 2009

Ralph's Bay's Feisty Locals

Perhaps mirroring the fight that locals (and many others) fought over the Ralph's Bay Conservation Area at Lauderdale, I witnessed the event, pictured at left, a few days ago.
For many years a pair of Pied Oystercatchers have nested on the end of the Lauderdale Spit. Unfortunately for this resident pair, it's also a spot where many other birds choose to roost at the top of the tide. Mostly they have to contend with other oystercatchers, sometimes numbering a hundred or more, one of the largest roosts you'll find anywhere. But they also need to defend their territory against gulls, Silver, Kelp and Pacific, and, as you can see, the odd White-faced Heron. The pair of oystercatchers at left of the image, started on the oystercatchers that I had disturbed from further down this little peninsula, and once 'wound up', took on all-comers. This hapless heron, that had been fishing in the drainage ditch as the tide rose, lobbed down almost in front of them and immediately became the centre of their attention. Confused at first, it tried several times to find another spot to land, but these oystercatchers were determined that shouldn't happen! Amazing what determined locals can do when their 'space' is threatened!


mick said...

How great to get a photo of such an interesting encounter!

BirdingTas said...

Hi Mick--just quick on the draw, and a huge slice of luck! Thanks.

Sebastian said...

HA! I got footage just today of Pied Oystercatchers chasing *each other* away...any explanation as to this behaviour?

BirdingTas said...

Hi Sebastian,
Pied Oystercatchers at this time of year are often involved in skirmishes. The 2 chasing the heron have a nest nearby, so that's their excuse. In flocks, birds have either paired or are in the process of doing so, so interlopers are often involved in brief, but sometimes prolonged, chases. Feathers do fly!