There are Oystercatchers on Papa Westray and they intend to let us know that. As soon as we arrive, and walk into a field, they are up in the sky making long circles around us, calling incessantly. It’s an annoying sound. I should get a recording and use it as my morning alarm.
It’s certainly a wake-up call.
We obviously interrupted this one while it was eating. It still has large quantities of soil on its bill.
That’s not stopping it calling, though. Personally I think it shouldn’t talk with its mouth full. Their colouring is very distinctive, earning them the name Seapie elsewhere. In Orkney they were called Skeldro, Chaldro or Shaalder.
Their scientific name is Haematopus ostralegus. Haematopus means blood-foot and ostralegus means oyster-picker. They are blood-footed oyster-pickers.
Their warning colouration is as vivid as the warning stripes on the stone walls of Papa Westray. Their tiny airport doesn’t want an aircraft hitting a low wall in the sea haar which can blanket the Island.
I wonder why many waders are cryptically coloured yet Oystercatchers are so conspicuous.
There’s more blood-red on the doors and other woodwork of the houses and farms of Papa Westray. Holland Farm is full of it:
Birds with red plumage have better red light vision than birds without red plumage. I wonder if that applies to birds with red accessories like beak and legs as well? Red is a warning colour to humans. It probably is to other animals as well.
As we walk away the Oystercatcher finally gets some rest.
And we get some respite from the noise.