I love these striking, noisy waders, with their long red beaks for opening molluscs or probing for worms. Once called Sea-pies, they were confined to the coast, but they have now spread inland and are not uncommon around Otley. I see them most flying over in pairs or small flocks – Wharfedale seems to be a bit of a highway for wildfowl and waders. Many of them will over-winter at the coast. They show a strong fidelity to both partner and home, with one study finding a pair that defended the same breeding site for twenty years. Nests are not much more than a scape in the ground, though Oystercatchers will sometimes Cuckoo-like lay their eggs in the nests of other birds such as gulls.
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