Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Oystercatcher
Gaelic: Drilleachan, Gille-bride
Photograph © Terry Fountain
Coot Loch - Benbecula - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
22nd April 2007
Our Oystercatcher photographs
An Oyster Catcher is 43cm, approximately the size of a Hooded Crow.
The distinctive long orange beak of an Oyster Catcher is one of a wader and is specialised for hammering and opening cockles and mussels, it also eats crustaceans and insects, and when inland, worms. (Oystercatchers can eat a cockle every 72 seconds!)
Very smart black and white shore bird with pink legs and feet.
The Oyster Catcher in flight shows a wide white wing-stripe, black tail and V-shaped white rump.
Adult in winter has a white chin-strap.
The Gaelic name Gille-bride means "servant of Saint Bride", and the plumage resembles a uniform.
Sandy and shingle beaches, dunes, saltmarshes, estauries and beside inland lochs throughout the Western Isles are the places where the Oyster Catcher can be found. We have over 1,200 breeding pairs out of a UK breeding population of 34,000 - 44,000.
The Oystercatcher nest is a bare scrape on the ground, and is sometimes in a dried up pool on the peats. The eggs are incubated by both parents.
One particular individual was found to be at least 35 years old and holds the longevity record for any wader in Britain.
Oystercatchers in the Western Isles
Common migrant breeder (1000 -10,000 pairs), fairly common winter visitor (occurs in small numbers)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section