Haematopus moquini

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African black oystercatcher – Near-threatened

Artwork by Hein Botha

The African Black Oystercatcher is one of the rarest oystercatchers in the world and is found only on the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. Because they nest in areas that are popular with man – and in summer when the beaches are most popular – the young are often greatly at risk.

Many human activities contribute to this. Beach-goers walking their dogs, anglers, drivers of 4X4s (although this is illegal now on South African beaches), and coastal development all contribute to the high mortality rate.

When an oystercatcher is disturbed, it may abandon its nest long enough for the eggs or chicks to die in the heat of the sun, or to be preyed upon by other birds (particularly by kelp gulls). The eggs and chicks are easily crushed by vehicles on the beach, and the helpless chick is no match for curious and uncontrolled dogs.

The African black oystercatcher mates for life and some pairs have been known to live together for up to 20 years. These birds start breeding at three to four years of age.

They breed once a year at the onset of summer and lay one to three (usually two) greenish stony-coloured eggs in a simple nest on sand or rocks, which is often no more than a scrape in the ground.

Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch after about 32 days.

Sources:
https://www.oystercatchertrail.co.za/blog/post/the-african-black-oystercatcher https://www.aquarium.co.za/species/entry/african_black_oystercatcher

Also read more at https://www.sanbi.org/animal-of-the-week/african-black-oystercatcher/

On the Garden Route the Nature’s Valley Trust does a lot of work to meet the needs of our shore birds as well as those of the community. Support their work: https://www.naturesvalleytrust.co.za/get-involved