African Black Oystercatchers - The Poster Bird For Conservation Hot

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african black oystercatcher pair calling by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

African black oystercatchers are resident to the West Coast and Southern Cape, with occasional birds moving into KwaZulu- Natal. In the early 1980s their numbers plummeted to around 4 500 birds.

Through conservation efforts, including banning off-road driving on beaches, the population now stands at around 6 000 birds.

Resplendent in smart, all-dark plumage, with bubblegum-pink legs and dagger-like bills, the colour of a Bloody Mary, African black oystercatchers are among the most charismatic species of South African and Namibian coasts.
They frequent the ever-changing interface between land and ocean, foraging in spray-soaked intertidal areas pummelled by breaking waves. The birds time their movements to the millisecond, dashing forwards to snatch tasty morsels, then taking flight as the surf breaks dangerously close.

There are 10 other species of oystercatcher worldwide and, like them, these dashing waders have a neat way of minimising competition for food between the sexes. The male’s bill is relatively short and stout: he eats mainly gastropods such as whelks and limpets, whereas the female uses her longer, thinner bill to probe fissures for polychaete worms and mussels. Feeding takes place day and night,for 5–9 hours within each 24-hour period.

African black oystercatchers are thought to reach the grand old age of 35. They reproduce slowly, in common with most long-lived birds, raising one brood per season. The grey-plumaged chicks hide among similarly coloured rocks, but after a couple of weeks or so become bolder and eventually join the adults at shoreline feeding areas. Here the juveniles incessantly beg their parents for food, finally becoming fully independent at two to six months old.

african Black Oystercatcher landing on a wave smashed rock by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 12. An African Black Oystercatcher lands on a wave smashed rock on an out-going tide and in order to start feeding

African Black Oystercatcher flock by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 12. A bachelor group of African Black Oystercatchers rest on an exposed boulder on Malgas Island on the west coast of South Africa.

African Black Oystercatcher agression by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 12.Two male African Black Oystercatchers size each other up as the female rests indifferently with her head along her back

African Black Oystercatchers sparring by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 12. Two male African Black Oystercatchers errupt into fighting with muck kicking and wing-slapping.

African Black Oystercatchers mating by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5 of 12. An African Black Oystercatcher pair mates briefly.

African Black Oystercatcher nest site by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 12. The shallow nest scrape and well camoflagued eggs of the African Black Oystercatcher. The birds nest along the coastline of South AFrica and try to fing locations with good surrounding views so as to avoid predation.

African Black Oystercatcher incubating on nest by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

7 of 12. An African Black Oystercatcher incubates on her nest that is placed on the crest of a coastal dune.

African Black Oystercatcher with reef worm by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

8 of 12. A male African Black Oystercatcher runs to feed his chick with a large reef worm dangling from his bill.

African Black Oystercatcher feeding young by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

9 of 12. An African Black Oystercatcher male feeds his well grown chick 

African Black Oystercatcher family by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

10 of 12. An adult pair of African Black Oystercatchers lead their well developed chick down onto the feeding grounds.

African Black Oystercatcher bathing by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

11 of 12. A male African Black Oystercaher bathes in a shallow rock pool and before commencing with feeding.

African Black Oystercatcher at dwan

12 of 12. An African Black Oystercatcher leaves its overnight roost that was high on coastal rocks as the sun pops over the horizon at dawn.

 

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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: http://www.peterchadwick.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
About
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.