The African Black Oystercatcher Featured

http://photodestination.co.za/media/reviewsphotos/thumbnail/341x341s/5e/22/8d/the-african-black-oystercatcher-27-1425354854.jpg
Comments (0)
African Black Oystercatcher_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger.jpg

Though never plentiful, African black oystercatchers suffered a worrying population decline during the 1970s and 1980s due to off-road driving on beaches and disturbance by dogs and walkers at their nest sites. At one point, only 4,500 birds were left. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population now stands at about 6,000 individuals.

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 pummeled 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 minimizing 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. Marine Protected Areas and offshore islands are important breeding areas for these birds where disturbance is kept to a minimum.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_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

1 of 12: A pair of African Black Oystercathers mate after a ritualistic dance and calling session.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

2 of 12: The well camoflagued eggs of the oystercatchers are placed in a nest hollow that is lined with small stones and shell bits.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

3 of 12: A female oystercatcher incubates her two eggs in a nest that is placed on a slight rise and that gives good all around visibility

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

4 of 12: A male osytercatcher runds towards his chicks with a large reef worm.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

5 of 12: An oystercatcher chick stays under the close protection of the adults who teach it to feed in the intertidal platforms.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

6 of 12: An oystercatcher chick follows its parent and learns how to search from food.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

7 of 12: An oystercatcher lands on a rock that has been exposed by an out-going tide and where good feeding opportunities will exist.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

8 of 12: A male oystercatcher runs across a sandy beach at dawn to reach his partner and chicks.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

9 of 12: Oystercatchers are fastidious about their cleanliness and bathe on a daily basis.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

10 of 12: A rabbit suns itself near a pair of oystercatchers on Dassen Island on the West Coast of South Africa.

12 AfricanAfrican Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

11 of 12: An oystercatcher leaves its overnight roost at dawn to begin feeding amongst inter-tidal rock pools.

African Black Oystercatcher_PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotograpger

12 of 12: A gathering of oystercatchers explode into flight as a wave breaks over the rock where they were socialising.

Map

Swap Start/End

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.

Comments
Please enter the security code.
 
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.