In April 2011, I once again arrived on the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge to start another season of seabird research working with PRBO Conservation Science. In my seventh and perhaps last season, I decided to start a photo a day challenge for myself. The challenge is to share a new and interesting photo for each day I am on the island this year.
The Black Oystercatcher is the only shorebird that breeds on the Farallones. They are also misnamed. Oystercatchers don't eat oysters. They eat a variety of intertidal organisms including, mussels, limpets and chitons. The Oystercatchers are another example of a species that has benefited from the protection of the refuge. They were extirpated from the island at one time but since have since recolonized. We currently have around 20 breeding pairs on the island. They breed primarily in areas we cannot access during the summer so the lucky person that gets to monitor them spends many hours at the lighthouse squinting through a spotting scope trying to determine where their nests are. Oystercatchers are the only surface nesting bird on the island that frequently leaves it's nest unprotected, relying on the cryptic coloring of the eggs to keep them safe from the gulls. This cryptic coloring works on humans as well so finding their nests is always a challenge.