Friday, 31 August 2012

Car Park Nesters

Back in July I was fortunate enough to photograph a pair of Oystercatchers that nested in a very odd location, the car park of a children’s day care centre!

The staff very kindly let me visit and take some images between their morning and lunchtime sessions when children, parents and pushchair activity was low. This was a great opportunity to see these usually shy birds up close and to view some interesting behaviour around a nest.

The nest was located on a raised bit of grass/gravel next to the curb where cars drive past and the nest was also directly next to a car parking space that was regularly used. The nest was constantly walked past by people entering the centre and parents sat tight making sure the eggs were well protected.

The staff at the centre were absolutely amazing, not only did they help safeguard these birds but they also put out water for them, informed all visitors to the site to be careful and considerate around the birds and they even constructed sigh boards with Oystercatcher information and spent time educating the children about these special birds, this is a really great example of involving normal people in nature conservation and getting children connecting with wildlife.

The Oystercatcher traditionally nests around the coast but increasingly more birds are moving inland and nesting in urbanised areas such as roofs of factories and warehouses, however a car park is still fairly odd! The bird although fairly numerous did decrease in numbers in 2011 and they are one of 4 wading birds that could come under a number of threats, being a ground nesting bird they are susceptible to disturbance, predation and nests being washed away by rain, with all the rain this year these birds clearly chose a sensible site raised off the ground slightly and with a large gate all around the site they were saved from possible disturbance and the presence of people during the day may have helped deter predators, very clever birds!

Unfortunately I could not return to the site but 3 chicks hatched out a few days later and after a day around the site the parents guided them away to safety, maybe they will return next year and make this a regular nesting site. The centre staff were brilliant and I thank them for letting me have this opportunity, they now have a wonderful wildlife experience and some of my images in their reception area to remind them of this!

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