Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pied Oystercatcher Roost.

I hadn't been out birding for several days, and in some frustration, finally chose a less than optimal day to try my luck and drove down to the Lauderdale Spit. With the temperature in single digits and a gale force wind blowing, as it had for the last week, it probably wasn't the best spot for someone suffering a debilitating chest complaint, but I persevered.
As you might guess, most birds had found a more sheltered spot, but it did highlight one significant issue--the importance of this area of Ralph's Bay to Pied Oystercatchers. The Australian population of this oystercatcher is estimated at around 10,000 individuals, and on this small spit I counted 353, and there may have been others I missed hunkered down in the vegetation. That's well over 3% of the entire (World) population. Many of these birds would normally roost in other bays, but the severe weather and high tides meant that this was one of the few roost sites left.
In some states the Pied Oystercatcher is on the "threatened" list, mainly due to habitat loss and human disturbance. The recent failed attempt to develop this area for canal style housing, shows just how easily this can occur.
I was able to get close enough to take a few shots without disturbing the flock--important at any time, more so in the conditions--and the image shows a small part of the roost.


Unknown said...

how wonderful to see them - so many - thankful we have these sites for them preserved!!!

Murray Lord said...

Alan, I was having a look at the AWSG website yesterday and came across your and Mike's article on Pied Oystercatchers around Hobart. Don't be modest, you should have posted a link on your blog! Very interesting.