Black Oysgtercatcher (Haematopus X)

The minus 1.0 tide exposed acres of mudflats, and this Black Oystercatcher flew in and landed in the middle of it. I wondered what it was up to, as I normally see oystercatchers on the rocks or at their edges. They’re not general mudflat foragers, like the Snowy Egrets or the Willets that were also on the scene. The bird kept striding south , when it could have reached the rip-rap border a few yards to its west. While the other birds found things of interest laying on the mud or swimming in the puddles, the oystercatcher kept on pacing. And then — did it know this was there, or was it sheer luck? — it found what looked from here like a snail partly dug into the mud next to a stone. Now the bird put its formidable beak to work. Using this long, tough implement partly as a chisel, partly as a lever, the bird soon extracted a fat, juicy morsel of marine protein, and down the hatch it went. That done, the bird proceeded to the nearby rocks and began a more conventional foraging session.

Black Oystercatchers have shown up along the east shore of the park on several occasions recently. This bird was solo, but frequently they come in pairs or small groups. You usually won’t see them if you stay on the paved trail. You usually have to walk close to the edge of the embankment to see them. But once in a while an oystercatcher will forage on the mud and become easily visible, like this one.

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  • I thought it was a large oyster. But who knows?

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