There will not be much in the way of birding this weekend with heavy snowfall again dominating the north-east of England. Got to say I'm loving it, not to good for the birds mind... Yesterday I followed a tip from Phil, who had seen water rail up close at West Hartford - I had no luck but did see the footprints! On the Horton Burn 2 snipe and single moorhen and kingfisher were present.
Photographs today feature african black oystercatcher - these images were taken on 1st January 2010 on the coast near Cape Town. It was part of our annual "New Year" walk, something we always seem to end up doing after a night of celebration.
Note how the african black oystercatcher have different bill length? The male has a shorter, chisel ended bill, while the females' is longer and more pointed - this provides subtle variations in their diet.
African black oystercatcher breeds only on the coasts and islands of South Africa and Nambia and has a population of about 7,500 birds ~ an increase of about 25% since the 1980's as increased protection of their breeding habitat, and rather bizarrely, the arrival of of mussels derived from the Mediterranean! (this goes against the grain from most alien species - bare in mind the disastrous affects of alien species in Hawaii?)