Strut­ting around on the beach

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

I HAVE been watch­ing War and Peace on the telly re­cently and it is drip­ping with dandy young men and women, strut­ting their stuff in front of their chirp­ing prospec­tive part­ners.

For­ward wind to the 1980s and we still had peo­ple with no re­gard for their rep­u­ta­tions with high hair and bright clothes try­ing to catch the eye of mates.

As Adam and the Ants once pro­claimed: “Prince Charm­ing, ridicule is noth­ing to be scared of.”

One of the an­i­mal world’s ex­am­ples of this type of showi­ness is the oys­ter­catcher.

It struts around with its long pink legs and sturdy, black and white body, but that red beak is some­thing that was ob­vi­ously at­tached at the last minute of its cre­ation.

As with all waders that beak is long and flat­tened so the oys­ter­catcher can search around in the mud and sand look­ing for shell­fish on the coast and in­sects and other good­ies in­land.

The bird is pretty much a fea­ture of most in­land lakes to­day and you will see flocks of them hop­ping into the air to­gether as you walk to­wards them on the tide­lines of beaches along the coast.

In sum­mer many birds tend to head in­land as food sup­plies of cock­les and mus­sels have dried up in some coastal ar­eas, but win­ter sees a re­turn to the coast with thou­sands fly­ing in from Nor­way and Ice­land.

Re­cent fig­ures in the Lan­cashire Bird At­las show fig­ures of some 47,000 birds in one sur­vey of the county’s three main es­tu­ar­ies – the Lune, the Wyre and the Rib­ble.

Our own wildlife trust’s pop­u­la­tion is be­lieved to be around 2,200, so you are more likely to see an oys­ter­catcher in win­ter.

The Bird At­las points out oys­ter­catch­ers were con­fined to the dunes and beaches a cen­tury ago, but they were nest­ing on the es­tu­ar­ies. Th­ese links to the in­land ar­eas helped oys­ter­catch­ers to move up­stream search­ing for food.

While they tend to avoid ur­ban ar­eas, they were re­ported to be nest­ing on top of the Jaguar fac­tory in Hale­wood on Mersey­side from 2008.

There is noth­ing bet­ter than spot­ting th­ese won­der­ful birds if you are strolling along a beach or lake­side.

They re­ally are one of our most strik­ing feath­ered friends.

And in win­ter they hud­dle to­gether in their thou­sands on sea fronts and rocky shores.

And what is a group of oys­ter­catch­ers? It’s a par­cel of course.

This is an­other of wildlife’s spec­tac­u­lar group­ings so get down to the coast and keep your eyes peeled.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

●● The oys­ter­catcher

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