Thursday, 2 June 2016

Cliff-nesting Oycs

Noted Clive's recent posting about the cliff-ledge nesting oystercatchers at Elegug Stacks area. When doing annual seabird counts along the Castlemartin peninsula coast over the last 30+ years (I must find something else to do!) I've often wondered how the small population of oycs, that regularly nest in such precarious places (between Linney and Stackpole and also elsewhere on cliff-ledges e.g. in the Skrinkle-Giltar/Penally area) manage to pull it off.

I assume that good nest-site locations must be a bit limited. Over the years I've noted that quite a few cliff-nests do seem to get predated but some chicks do seem to fledge ok. The parents bring food up to the ledges (limpets, worms etc) and the young often seem able to cope quite well on a narrow platform (if undisturbed!) especially on well-vegetated ledges with places to hide. I've seen them clamber down to the beach when they are about half grown but still not able to fly. Let's hope the celebrity ones at Elegug Stacks will pull it off again!

Another cliff-nest-site on the Castlemartin peninsula. This one, occupied in 2014, is about 20 feet down from the cliff-top 

The nest-ledge sits above a c. 30-40 foot vertical drop to boulders below; two young seemingly fledged ok that year!