The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight it shows a wide, white wing-stripe, a black tail and a white rump that extends as a ‘V’ between the wings.

Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited.

They breed on almost all UK coasts. During the last 50 years, more birds have started breeding inland. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast where they are joined on the east coast by birds from Norway.

Oystercatchers’ nests are a scrape in the ground made by the male. It may be lined with shells, fragments of rocks or small mammal droppings.

Oystercatchers lay 2-5 camouflaged eggs which are incubated by both male and female for 24-35 days. Chicks are covered in down and are fed by both parents. They fledge around 33 days but will still rely on their parents for food for some time.

Did you know?

There are 12 species in the world, all of which look very similar, being either pied or plain black, with a red bill and pink legs. A further species of oystercatcher became extinct in the 20th century.

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The Common Redshank

Brownish all over, with a paler belly, the Redshank is one of only two waders that has bright red legs; the Spotted Redshank also has red legs, but is larger, with longer legs and a longer bill. The Redshank has a straight bill, which is red at the base and black at the end. When it flies, it shows a white triangular wedge up its back and a wide, white triangle on its rear.

A Large Sandpiper

The Redshank is a large sandpiper with long, bright red legs. It is a typical wader, feeding in shallow water around lakes, marshes, mudflats and coastal wetlands. It breeds on open marshes, mires and saltmarshes, particularly in Scotland and northern England. Look for it typically posed on top of a post, fence or rock in wet grassland or farmland areas.

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Widespread, but breeding birds are especially prevalent in Scotland and Northern England. Wintering birds can be seen in large numbers around estuaries and coastal wetlands.

Large numbers of Redshank fly here from Iceland to spend the winter around our coasts.

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Acknowledgements: Extracts from The Wildlife Trusts

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'Ruff - A large Wader'

The ruff is a long-necked, pot-bellied bird. The male is much larger than the female (the reeve), and has a breeding plumage that includes brightly coloured head tufts, bare orange facial skin, extensive black on the breast, and the large collar of ornamental feathers that inspired this bird’s English name. The female and the non-breeding male have grey-brown upperparts and mainly white underparts.

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