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African Black Oystercatcher

African Black Oystercatcher
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2011-10-08
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC HX1, Sony G lens 20x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 125
Exposure: f/5.2, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2012-01-18 18:09
Viewed: 4111
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 74
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
African Black Oystercatcher / Haematopus moquini

One of the birds we had on our wish list to photograph was the African Black Oystercatcher. Both Loot and I was in our element when we saw 2 of them pecking for insects on the kelp quite close to us at the Danger Point beach. These birds are rather rare and not often seen and we where very fortunate to have been able to capture some shots of them. This beautiful black bird with its longish red beak, red legs and red circles around its eyes have been featured a few times on Trek Nature but without doubt it remains one of those that create a feeling as if you are looking at it for the 1st time, each time you lay your eyes on it.

Distribution and habitat
Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring along the coast of southern Angola, Namibia and much of South Africa, largely excluding coastal KwaZulu-Natal. It generally prefers rocky and/or sandy shores of islands or the mainland, occasionally moving to lagoons, estuaries and coastal pans.

Movements and migrations
Adults are largely sedentary and territorial, generally breeding on sandy beaches and islands, often heading to more rocky areas of the coastline in the non-breeding season. Juveniles on the south-eastern coast disperse widely after becoming fully independent; usually traveling at least 150km's away from their parents breeding territory. Juveniles originating from the western and southern coast of South Africa often head to five 'nursery' areas on the Namibian and Angolan coast, where they stay for about 2-3 years before returning to the area they grow up in.

It mainly eats mussels and other aquatic invertebrates, doing most of its foraging in the intertidal zone, dislodging molluscs from rocks with a jab of its bill or probing the sand for other animals. The following food items have been recorded in its diet: mussels, limpets, whelks, polychaetes, sandy anemone, red bait, sand hoppers, tellins, eggs and chicks of the White-fronted plover.

Monogamous, solitary nester, with pairs defending their territory by performing the piping display, in which they point their bills downwards, hunch their shoulders and call loudly.

The nest is a simple scrape in the ground excavated by both sexes, usually dug into sandy soil and lined with shells and rock chips. If the substrate is too hard to dig into, it places extra shells and rock chips along the rim of the nest. It is typically placed close to the high-water mark, concealed by an adjacent object such as kelp or a rock. Egg-laying season is from September-April, peaking from November-January.

It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 27-39 days. The chicks leave the nest after about 24 hours and are cared for by both parents, who regularly feed them in or near the intertidal zone. They fledge at about 35-40 days old, becoming fully independent about 2-6 months later.

Near-threatened, due to its small population size, low reproductive rate and susceptibility to human disturbance, especially urban development and use of off-road vehicles on beaches (destroying nests). Conservation efforts have significantly reduced occurrence of the latter. About 30% of its global population is based on offshore islands, so protection of them from predators and disease is key to its conservation. Source

I hope you enjoy looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

ana974, tuslaw, PaulLees, jusninasirun, williewhistler, ramthakur, cobra112, CeltickRanger, maaciejka, nicozanghi, vanni2009, Silvio2006, pegos, skobek, marhowie, Jakkals, jcoowanitwong, japiey, Adanac, Alex99, mesquens, pierrefonds has marked this note useful
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To ramthakur: KelpMiss_Piggy 2 01-20 18:11
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • ana974 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 477 W: 48 N: 968] (4857)
  • [2012-01-18 19:18]

Hello Anna!
Amazing shot showing this wonderful black bird.Excellent details and ambience,nice contact eyes.The red eyes are impressive! Well done! Many thanks for sharing!Thanks also for the instructive notes.
Best wishes from,

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2012-01-18 20:28]

Hello Anna,
What an interesting composition here, with exceptional clarity. The bird is a first for me, so I find your notes very informative. The bird is shown in fine detail and just the right exposure. Colors are true and natural and exposure is right on the mark. Love the attractive low POV.
What really captures my attention is the awesome DOF. The Kelp looks as though I could reach out and pick it up. Reminds me of a large fresh garden salad. A little vinegar and oil and this little guy could have a fine meal:) TFS.

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2012-01-18 21:08]

Hi Anna

I have seen this species in Namibia - I had not realised that they are so uncommon.

Wonderful light and pose here - the eye contact is great - it seems to be thinking -'...and what do you want'? Good detail in the black plumage too.


Been trying to post this for nearly 2 hours!!

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2012-01-18 22:07]

Hello Anna,
A real beauty!
The lighting, the colours, the eye-contact with its red eye, the typical shorline BG with the sea-weeds and the OOF water and composition that suits the fine POV and pose all contribute to a top portrait of the African Black Oysterctacher.
A joy to view and thanks!
Best regards,

Hi Anna,
fantastic picture of a fantastic bird. great work with this difficult black bird!

Hi Anna, Fabulous capture of this African Black Oystercatcher my good friend, excellent exposure/white balance to support these lovely natural colours, splendid sharpness with detailed feather texture, great effort here Anna and very well done,
Best Regards,


Hello Anna,
I am having this feeling of having seen this bird for the first time. Excellent capture of this rare sighting with picture fitting your description. Well exposed details and the black plumage did not stop you from getting te right exposure.
Thanks and kind regards,

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2012-01-19 0:32]

Hello Anna,
I saw this beauty in your country in 2002. But my photos are by far not so good. This image is fantastic. So close and the impressive eye contact! The kelp around the bird creates a very fine environment. Gorgeous light and colours. Excellent sharpness.

excellent colors in this so beautiful close up photo, also great details with this light, very well done!
regards Anna

Hello Anna,
you have done well to capture all the fine detail in this attractive Oyster catcher in its environment,such a pretty bird.
Lovely photography.

Hi Anna,
Great Shot with impressive sharpness and fine details.
Colours and light are fantastic.
Thanks for sharing

A very handsome bird, indeed, Anna.
Looks like you had all the time in the world to take pictures of it without the fear of its flying away.
The image is sharp and crisp in the natural light. The stuff under its feet (I can't make out what it is) makes a nice BG and adds colour to the picture.
Thanks and regards.

Ciaoa Anna. Impressive DOf colours and contrast. Magnifciente environment.


hello Anna
Great sharpness and good composition
very nice light and good details
the colours are beautiful to'
thanks greeting lou

Hello Anna

By the POV at the bird's level, by the superb focus
and great sharpness and details, this is a
excellent photo, and by the light of the image
& the pose of this African Black Oystercatcher
this is a beautiful photo, TFS


Hi Anna,
very nice vivid colours. Amazing composition. Perfect sharpness and details.
Thanks for sharing,

Hello Anna
Congratulations for this oystercatcher, I had not even seen one of its kind, perfect sharpness and colors. greetings
Hello Nico

Hello Anna,
a wonder of colors, excellent sharpness and contrast.
Very nice!
compliments and thanks for sharing
Hello Vanni

Ciao Anna, unusual ambientation for this lovely bird with fantastic red eye, fine details, wonderful colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2012-01-19 15:10]

Splendid image of this beauty, Anna!
Excellent sharpness and light; great POV and beautiful colours; fantastic eye contact. A composition very well done!
Thanks for sharing.

Hello Anna,
this bird wondering what to eat? :).
Very good lighting. Excellent contrast and color.
Thanks for posting this photo.
Regards - Slawek

Great photo Anna! Interesting subject in a beautiful pose, Very good composition, fantastic colours and impressive sharpness!

I like this setting with the ABO poised on this kelp, and the ocean BG.
Nice head turn for the camera, great exposure and details Anna.
Love that red eye on black, maybe one day I'll get to see one in the wild :)

Maravilloso trabajo Anna... y de un gran realismo. Qué suerte el poder disfrutar de esas especies !
Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

Hello Anna,
It is for the first time when I see this species. Your image is really wonderful. The details, sharpness and colours are excellent. Great natural environment, too. Well done!

Hello Anna,
Capturing a black bird with such splendid sharpness and detail is never easy but you succeeded with flying colours!! Explicit detail, colours and POV. Well done my friend.
Best regards,

Hello Anna,
A nice photo of African Black Oystercatcher in natural setting. I love the contrast black and red that nature provides for this bird. The camera settings for this photo is impeccable.

Namaste Anna Eksteen ~

An interesting frame , with much clarity that the viewer takes his time to watch each detail that's in frame.
Beautiful shot and the text, very informative.

Thank you for the kind words in my image.
I was not active with photography recently, and didn't have images to post here. As a promise, I will keep in touch.
Have a nice day.
All the best to both of you.


  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2012-01-31 20:06]

Hello Anna,
First thank you for the lovely welcome back, you make me blush. Now for your outstanding capture of this beautiful oystercatcher. The details you achieved in the black plumage are incredible and the bright orange red of the bill and eye are stunning. excellently executed Anna, thank you.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2012-01-31 21:27]

Hi Anna.
What a tremendous picture of a beautiful bird at attractive surroundings. It is impossible to imagine more exact reproduction of every feather, legs, beak and eye of the charming bird despite its dark feather colouration. I also like some blurriness of the remote BG and crisp sharp water vegetation around the bird. Perfect job as usual. My warm wishes and TFS.

Beautifull bird, very nice shot!!! Greetings.

Hallo Anna,
a fantastic portrait of the African Black Oystercatcher, outstanding sharpness and brilliant colours, impressive eye detail, excellent point of view and close composition
Best regards

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2012-02-26 6:36]

Hello Anna,
such a superb capture in very sharp image.The details are really wonderful, especially the red eye.
Very well presented shot in excellent ligt.


Hi Anna,
I think this is a stunning photo!
I know how difficult it is to get close enough to these birds on our beach at Melkbosstrand.
With this photo we can all appreciate the real beauty of these birds.
Thank you

Hi Anna,

The subject is well framed. The point of view is showing the details and colors of the African Black Oystercatcher. It is clear and precise. Have a nice day.


Hi Anna,

A very detailed picture of a fully black bird. You managed it with excellence. Proportionate lighting on the seaweeds, over & above all the red eye on camera. Great.


hello Anna,
what nice picture of this black beauty. great detail on black. perfect light you chose to take this picture. optimum sharpness and true colour. all in all it is a great picture. she look like a princes with her red eye and red beak :).
best wishes,

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