By March these charismatic waders, starkly monochrome save for orange bills and eyes and pink legs, are leaving wintering areas on estuaries and salt-marshes for their breeding grounds. Since they breed around the entire coastline of Britain and Ireland, some may not have far to go. But growing numbers of oystercatchers nest inland, especially further north, favouring short, sparse grassland, arable fields and pebbly islands in rivers. Newly returned pairs display lustily. Male and female strut side by side or play chase, with
bills open wide to pipe their shrill duets.