Thursday 28 February 2013

Wader Quest species seen nº 5: Eurasian Oystercatcher

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Titchwell RSPB reserve, Norfolk, England.

1st November 2012. Titchwell RSPB reserve, Norfolk England. (Also seen UAE)

Large numbers of these birds were encountered on the beach associating in loose flocks. They appeared to be the most numerous species. When a flock would get up and fly around having been disturbed by a dog walker or jogger they would circle around calling noisily and then settle behind whatever had disturbed them. Groups of birds were seen flying along the beach moving from the east to the west in the most part.

With Eurasian Curlew, one in winter plumage with white throat band and
one behind in breeding plumage. Titchwell beach, Norfolk ,England.
Three subspecies currently recognised (the fourth H. finschi is now split as South Island Oystercatcher). H. o. ostralegus breeds across northern Europe and Scandinavia through the British Isles and in the Mediterranean wintering in Europe and west Africa; H. o. longipes breeds in western Russia and winters from east Africa through to India; H. o. ocsulans breeds in eastern Russia and China and winters along the Chinese coast.

Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales.

We will have seen H. o. ostralegus in the UK at various locations and H. o. longipes in the UAE at Khor-al Beida.

Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales.

As with many species the population trend is decreasing, but it is still considered of Least Concern by the IUCN because of the huge widespread population which is thought to be between 1,100,000 and 1,200,00 individuals. The main threat to the species is the over-fishing of cockles and mussels and of course habitat destruction especially due to reclamation of inter-tidal flats. As they spend much of their time in winter on beaches thaey are also susceptible to disturbance from humans and their dogs using the beach as we saw graphically at Titchwell where people were allowing their dogs to run free on the beach chasing the feeding waders.

Birdlife International (2013) Species factsheet: Haematopus ostralegus. Downloaded from on 28/02/2013.

Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales.

For more information on Eurasian Oystercatcher see:

Birdlife International species factsheet:

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