Oystercatcher Nests on Tour Boat, Eggs Relocated by Conservation Group

A nature-spotting cruise on the Beaulieu River was delayed after an oystercatcher nested on the tour boat, laying two eggs in a life buoy. The eggs were relocated to a tender, and the oystercatcher was later spotted back on her eggs.

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Nitish Verma
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Oystercatcher Nests on Tour Boat, Eggs Relocated by Conservation Group

Oystercatcher Nests on Tour Boat, Eggs Relocated by Conservation Group

In a surprising turn of events, a nature-spotting cruise on the Beaulieu River was delayed when an oystercatcher was found to have nested on the tour boat, laying two eggs in a life buoy on the catamaran. The conservation group Wild New Forest, led by tour leader Marcus Ward, discovered the eggs ahead of a planned nature cruise on Sunday.

The oystercatcher, a large black and white wading bird with a distinctive red bill, had laid two eggs in some rope within a life buoy on the catamaran. "It was a bit of a surprise to find the bird had laid two eggs in some rope within a life buoy on the catamaran," said Marcus Ward, the tour leader. "They are quite an adaptable and intelligent species, which is why we thought she would take it up."

Why this matters: The incident highlights the issue of nesting infrastructure for oystercatchers, which are vulnerable to predation and have issues with nesting habitat loss. This story underscores the need for conservation efforts to provide suitable nesting sites to support the long-term survival of this iconic coastal species.

Oystercatchers usually nest on shingle embankments, but this pair may have been desperate due to a lack of suitable nesting habitat. "This pair must have been getting desperate and dumped their eggs on the boat," Ward added.

To minimize disturbance, the eggs were relocated to a more permanently moored tender. The oystercatcher was later spotted back on her eggs. The incident highlights the issue of nesting infrastructure for oystercatchers, and Marcus Ward plans to investigate installing an artificial platform for future nesting seasons. The reaction of the tour group to the delay was "entirely positive".

Oystercatchers can live for up to 35 years and are a familiar sight along the New Forest coast between Keyhaven and Lymington or around Needs Ore. This is not the first time an oystercatcher has caused a surprise; last month, a number of football matches in Dumfries had to be postponed after an oystercatcher laid its eggs close to the center circle of a 3G artificial pitch.

The successful relocation of the oystercatcher eggs by Wild New Forest demonstrates the adaptability and resilience of these birds in the face of habitat challenges. As conservation efforts continue, it is hoped that suitable nesting sites can be provided to support the long-term survival of this iconic coastal species.

Key Takeaways

  • Oystercatcher nests on tour boat, laying 2 eggs in life buoy.
  • Incident highlights need for conservation efforts to provide nesting sites.
  • Oystercatchers vulnerable to predation and habitat loss.
  • Eggs relocated to tender, mother oystercatcher returns to nest.
  • Conservation group plans to install artificial nesting platform.