Wednesday, May 1, 2013

American Oystercatcher and Barn Swallow

Happy May! Today was yet another gorgeous spring day (keep 'em coming!) and I was happy to spend the morning wandering the beaches of Silver Sands State Park, where I volunteer once a week to monitor for Piping Plovers and other shorebirds. I didn't see any plovers today -- none of these little birds nested at this beach last year, so we'll have to wait and see if this year will be any different -- but I did see another bird that is of special conservation concern in Connecticut: an American Oystercatcher.

What a fancy bird! I love that impressive orange beak -- both pretty and useful, great for stabbing oysters, mussels, and other bivalves -- and it looks especially cool back-lit as it is in the above picture (it's practically glowing). American Oystercatchers are listed as threatened in Connecticut, and they're running into some of the same problems around here as Piping Plovers: These birds nest on nice sandy beaches, which, first, are getting harder to come by, and, second, happen to be where people like to hang out, too, so well-camouflaged eggs and chicks get accidentally disturbed and trampled. If I find a plover or oystercatcher nest on my monitoring rounds, it'll get a protective fence and watchful eyes to help give the babies a greater chance of survival.

No sign of a mate or a nest for this morning's oystercatcher, but I had fun watching him or her prowling the low-tide sands:

I caught up with this bird again later, when it had settled down among some sun-warmed rocks to rest. I have to say, this shorebird is quite startling in color and shape, but I think it's very handsome overall:

Stick around for a while, fancy oystercatcher. If you find a mate and settle down here, I'll help protect your babies!

Later during my walk, I had way too much fun trying to take pictures of the Barn Swallows zipping by only a foot or so above the sand:

I love that super-pointy swallow-tail, both on the bird and on its shadow:

Thanks, spring, for bringing all these cool creatures back here again!

1 comment:

  1. Happy May to you! I love the Oystercatchers. They are cool birds. Great shots!