American Black Oystercatch, haematopus bachmani sitting on brood of eggs.
So we’re motoring along in the skiff to see the ruins of an old homestead cabin in Reid Inlet, and when we approached the beach I saw two oystercatchers sitting on the ground. We beached the boat away from them, and when the group walked with the naturalist towards the cabin, I decided to check out the birds with my Canon 300mm f2.8 lens that I had lugged in the backpack. As I walked carefully towards them, they got up and moved. I looked closely with my long lens but saw no nest/eggs. But I knew the nest was nearby, judging by the overall focused behavior of the birds. I walked carefully through the beach gravel, watching every step. I had a goal to spot and photograph the eggs because it’s a great example of camoflauge. And then I spotted the nest. I stopped to pull out the long lens, moving ever slightly closer (three feet) , when suddenly I got a hard ‘whack’ on my right upper arm/shoulder – it was an oystercatcher dive-bombing me! It was surprisingly hard but the bird was just fine. I was a little shaken up though, I must admit. Can’t say I’ve been body-slammed by a bird before. The nest was unprotected when that happened, the other one had moved off of it earlier perhaps. So I simply sat down, spoke to the birds softly, and waited, keeping my same distance. In just a few moments, one parent moved in to sit back on the eggs- and that’s when I made the main picture above. They let me stay and observe/photograph, everyone calmed down, and in fact one of the other gals on the trip slowly made her way over and sat next to me. They were comfortable yet cautious of any fast motion. So when we were done, we very slowly picked up our gear and with heartfelt ‘thank-yous’ spoken out loud to them, we backed away. Later on the boat, I found myself unconsciously rubbing my upper arm…
Thanks, Jan. Yes, incredible camouflage. I love that in nature.
Great story and pictures, Brenda. Incredible camouflaged eggs.
I’ve never been body slammed by anything, much less a bird! Took me a minute to spot the eggs in the nest in the second shot – good camoflauge.
Thanks for the great images!
Yeah, me neither – it was pretty incredible. Aren’t those camo’d eggs just great? I love how nature does that. Thanks for commenting.
Yikes, Carl! I’m glad you had your motorcycle helmet on too! Another thing we need to carry with us as bird photographers? lol. Thanks for reading/sharing your experience.
I had a similar experience with an oystercatcher in Opua, New Zealand but I was able to take cover next to some large rocks so I didn’t get hit. However I have had my head pecked by Arctic Terns here in Anchorage. But I was ready for them and was wearing a motorcycle helmet. Good thing too, or I might have been bloodied!