On Tuesday evening, I spent a few hours looking for Black Oystercatchers (BLOY) at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz and along West Cliff Drive, but I had no luck finding or hearing any. However, Wednesday morning I found the pair that is known to be at Natural Bridges! It took about 30 minutes for me to find one of them, which looked as though it was sitting on a nest (possibly one egg or more!). As I searched with my binoculars, I could not find the mate anywhere, so I decided to go walking across the beach to the tide pools where I thought it might be foraging . . . no luck. But when I came back, there it was foraging along the bottom of the rock for mussels and limpets. Then, a man decided to walk along the rocks (in an area he should not have been), and the pair sounded off with their territorial calls and were getting very defensive until the man walked away. Thursday morning I was able to check the nest, and found that this pair has at least 2 eggs!
Although BLOYs are listed as being of Least Concern (according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), we still want to monitor them to see how their eggs and chicks survive because “they are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.” BLOYs are a beautiful type of seabird which are monogamous – they mate for life – and each mating pair creates their own territory which can be almost a half mile long depending on the area. As I mentioned above, BLOYs give territorial calls to warn others that they are too close. In some cases, there will be an ‘intruder’ (usually a young male who has not found a mate yet) that enters a pair’s territory. The monogamous pair will then chase the ‘intruder’ out of their territory while making the territorial calls.
I have not been monitoring BLOYs for very long, however I am enjoying it a lot. These birds are unique, and it is so interesting that I have never seen them before this internship considering that I have gone to (and still go to) these beaches all the time, ever since I was a little girl. The joy of all the little things in life!