Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Black Oystercatchers

Click on photos for greater detail

Aren't these guys (or gals) quite wonderful? These are Black Oystercatchers, found only along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California, but apparently quite common in rocky areas of that habitat. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Black Oystercatcher as a "large, conspicuous, and noisy bird," and conspicuous they certainly are. This was a first-time spot for both Dave and me, and we got very excited to see these striking birds with their bright red-orange bills, pink legs, orange eye-rings and black plumage. This trio was on rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean at MacKerricher State Park, just north of Fort Bragg, California, where we also saw numerous other shorebirds as well as harbor seals.

Below is a collage of a sequence I took of a single bird. A little out-of-focus individually, together they convey a sense of movement which in real life culminated with the bird taking flight, as seen in the lower left corner. I find the top image rather haunting.

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Jim H. said...

Those are some cool pictures.

They are really called oyster catchers? This naming convention should be expanded. For example, in my back yard I have several grey worm eaters, lots of brown seed plunderers, and a few red insect torturers.

Mary S. said...

Fantastic photos! The orange beak amid all the black, white and gray of the photos is so striking. Makes me want to go to N. Calif.

Penelope said...

Jim - indeed, birds have the most wonderful, often descriptive names. Flycatcher (numerous kinds). Goldeneye. Roseate spoonbill. Bridled titmouse. Rhinoceros auklet. To name a few. I think I prefer the less obviously representative names: Godwit. Whimbrel. If humans followed this pattern, I guess I'd be the Lesser Silver-capped Roundbody, or the Tortilla Chip Catcher, or something like that.

Mary - yes, the contrast here is what I love about these photos. It was a gray, misty and occasionally rainy day, but I'm glad we went out anyway, as we saw wonderful things. Harbor seals coming soon!