American Oystercatcher: Pursuit of an Oddball Bird

On a Port Isobel wave

On a Port Isobel wave

I can’t forget the first time I saw one.  In 2007, I was kayak fishing around Rigby Island  on the White’s Creek side.  It’s body was a slightly bit chunky.  The striking colors of the brown and white body was offset with its black head and orange bill and eyes.   While I was devoted to saving croaker from drowning that day, I hoped that I would see this bird again when photography was the only thing on my agenda.

 The American oystercatcher is one of the most attractive birds along the Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay.  It is a member of the sandpiper family and , hence the name, has a reputation for feeding on mollusk.  Unlike it’s dunlin and sanderling relatives, I have never seen more than 3 or 4 oystercatchers at one time.  The Eastern Shore is the best place in the state to see them in large numbers.  But, I have come to enjoy tracking them on this side of the bay.

  The Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve is a good place to look for the bird as is Rigby Island (no trespassing, view from your kayak). DameronMarsh and Hughlett’s Point are good locations for them too.  Low tides are best for finding oystercatchers as they have more area to roam and feed.  I have my best luck in evenings, mornings, and before storms.  Stalk very cautiously if you shoot with anything less than a 400mm lens.  Use a monopod for added stability; a tripod if possible.


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