Skogsøy Webshop Home Travel Gullfjell Contact
Tjeldstø Galleries Offshore Equipment  U.K. Links

Øygarden Services Advertising Accomodation Books

Eurasian Oystercatcher - Tjeld - Haematopus ostralegus
Strandskata - Strandskade - Meriharakka - Huîtrier régulier

Pictures in Gallery Numbers at Stag Rocks, Northumberland

The Oystercatcher is a common migrant in both spring and autumn at Skogsøy and is the most numerous of the wader species. The species migrates early in the season with the first birds being noted passing north towards the end of February. Numbers build up rapidly and by mid-March it is possible to see over 1-2000 birds in the course of a few hours seawatching. After the end of March numbers drop rapidly, although passage continues well into May.

Oystercatcher numbers seem to be fairly well monitored on their wintering grounds further south in Europe. However, these winter counts do not give much information regarding the various populations involved.
Trends in the Norwegian population are little known; counts from Skogsøy should help to address this.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Tjeldstø, June 2006

One interesting phenomenon I have noticed is that there are indications of a shift in migration tactics as the season progresses; this may indicate that differing populations are invloved in the spring migration. Early in the season (before the end of March) the majority of birds pass immediately after dawn with numbers dropping rapidly throughout the day. As the season progresses passage is spread out throughout the day without any peak around dawn. It is a well known fact that this species also migrates at night.

Migrating Oystercatcher, Skogsøy, SW Norway
Migrating Oystercatcher, March 2012

The species is also common in the autumn migration with peak numbers in July to mid-August. The vast majority of birds have headed south by mid-September, although occasional birds are seen into early November.

The following diagram shows the maximum recorded in a given three day period (green line, scale on right hand axis). In order to give an idea of the frequency of observation observer effort is presented as the blue line (number of visits) and the orange lines (number of days the species was recorded). More comprehensive data is available on the Skogsøy downloads page.

Eurasian Oystercatcher - maximum counts

Number of Oystercatcher seen by week number at Skogsøy, Norway
Number of Oystercatcher observed at Skogsøy by week number as reported in artsobs
The second peak in early May is probably a fake and is caused by more people seawatching at Skogsøy during this time

It is the nominate rate, ostralegus of the continental population that breeds in Norway. Recoveries of birds ringed in the breeding season in Norway show that the U.K. is an important area, especially for birds of the year in September. From October onwards more recoveries have come from between Denmark and France, although France is likely to be over represented due to shooting.

An Oystercatcher ring I found in an Eagle Owls nest was from a bird over 30 years old and ringed on the south coast of England.

Flocks can pass high and low so one has to keep an eye on the sky too!
Oystercatcher flock heading north high up - on good weather days you need an eye on the sky too!

Migrating Oystercatcher, Skogsøy, SW Norway

Above and below: Migrating Oystercatchers, Skogsøy, March 2012

Migrating Oystercatcher, Skogsøy, SW Norway

Oystercatcher on the move, April 2019
Migrating Oystercatchers catch the early morning light, April 2019

Dunlin migrating with Oystercatcher, May 2018
Dunlin migrating with Oystercatcher and a Common Gull, May 2018
It is worth looking through flocks of migrating Oystercatcher for other species that may have joined them

The record count is 2850 heading north 28 March 1982.

All of the big (>1000) counts I have had in spring have been during light tailwinds (S or SW), usually with light haze.

Bakken, V., Runde, O. & Tjørve, E. 2003 Norsk Ringmerkingsatlas Vol 1, Stavanger Museum, Stavanger
Wernham, C.V., Toms, M.P., Marchant, J.H., Clark, J.A., Siriwardena, G.M. & Baillie, S.R. (eds) 2002. The Migration Atlas: Movements of the Birds of Britain and Ireland. T & AD Poyser, London.


All content on this site, including Natural Born Birder logo, is copyright © 2005-2020.  No data to be used without permission.
High resolution versions of most images on this website are available for sale. Please contact me for further details or other enquiries.

Birding Top 500 Counter