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Improved facilities for off-road recreational drivers at Adamsfield

19/02/2015

A new day use shelter providing improved facilities for off-road recreational drivers has been completed at Adamsfield in the Adamsfield Conservation Area, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.More

Mystery of Risso's dolphin strandings continues

11/02/2015

The mystery of multiple strandings of Risso's dolphins on Australia's eastern seaboard continues with another Risso's dolphin being found dead at a remote part of Reidle Bay on Maria Island.More

Volunteer caretakers lend a welcome hand

06/02/2015

Volunteer caretakers at Cape Bruny, the Bruny Island Quarantine Station, Cockle Creek and Melaleuca have all reported bumper visitor numbers during the peak holiday period.More

Sooty Oystercatcher, Haematopus fuliginosus

Description

The Sooty Oystercatcher reaches up to 510mm in length. It has entirely black plumage and, indeed, is the only all-black shorebird in Australia. It has a long red bill, red eye and dark pink legs. Males and females are similar in appearance and young birds are a duller brown rather than black. It is often seen with the similar (black and white) Pied Oystercatcher.

Habitat

The Sooty Oystercatcher is a coastal bird, preferring rocky shores in contrast to the Pied Oystercatcher, which is frequently found on beaches. The Sooty Oystercatcher will, however, occasionally be seen on sandy beaches. It is found either singularly or in pairs. It breeds on offshore islands and isolated rocky headlands. 

Diet

The name "oystercatcher" is a misnomer because they seldom eat oysters. Pied Oystercatchers feed mainly on bivalve molluscs, worms, crabs and other crustaceans, starfish, seaurchins and small fish, using its long bill to stab, lever, prise or hammer open food items.

Breeding

The Sooty Oystercatcher breeds in Spring and Summer. They nest in a scrape on the ground among pebbles or shells, pigface or seaweed on rocky shores  above the high-tide mark.two to three eggs are laid. Both members of a breeding pair incubate the eggs and care for the young. Nest are vulnerable to disturbance from dogs, and 4WD and people traversing beaches above the hightide mark.

Call

The call - similar to the Pied Oystercatcher - is sharp, ringing "klepp, kleep".
Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania

Distribution

The Sooty Oystercatcher is found only in Australia and is widespread in coastal eastern, southern and western Australia.

They are common around the coast of Tasmania, and particularly on the Bass Strait islands.