Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Not To Walk On Some Stony Shores

Hey, we're kayakers, but everybody has to come ashore once in a while. Unless we're Freya and can sleep in our kayaks for a week when crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria while circumnavigating Australia. So when we come ashore, that shouldn't be a problem, right? But it can be.
Sure, we look for sandy beaches or stony beaches when landing. It's hard to land a kayak where surf pounds on a rough, rocky shore. But we have to remember to look carefully where we're walking! Birds nest on the beaches, and it's easy to disturb the parents or step on their nests.

We've seen plenty of oystercatchers when out in our kayaks. The adult bird is pretty easy to see: big as a crow, with a bright red beak and bright pink feet. But have you ever seen an oystercatcher's nest? Well, I haven't. And I love birdwatching. And there's an ecological preserve right in and around Cadboro Bay to give oystercatchers and other birds some safe ground for nesting. That got me thinking -- what the heck DOES an oystercatcher's nest look like?

The answer is: damned near invisible. These photos are from the website of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The nest is really hard to see on a stony shore, especially if you're used to the nests made by robins or crows or herons. Can you see two eggs and a chick among those stones? Could you see them if you were pulling your kayak above the high tide line? No wonder we're not allowed to go ashore on the little islands where these birds make their nests.
You can read more here about the GINPR's participation in a program to survey the population of black oystercatchers in this area.

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