Re: [BIRDING-NZ] sooty oystercatchers at lake Ellesmere?

To: Karl Evans <>
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-NZ] sooty oystercatchers at lake Ellesmere?
From: Brent Stephenson <>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 14:54:07 +1300
Hi Karl,

Wow!! My advice in this situation would be to advertise this on the BIRDING-AUS newsgroup. They have had similar difficulties with our SIPO and their OZPO as you may be aware, and I would think they may well have an opinion on this matter.

Their email is

birding aus <>

If you are not subscribed just ask them to reply in person.

An excellent find!



On Saturday 23rd the Christchurch branch of OSNZ had a field trip to Lake Ellesmere. On the lake fringe at the end of Wolfes Road there were 2 all dark oystercatchers. As variables are very unusual at this site and this habitat (reed fringed mud) they were
looked at in more detail than typical for this species.

Both birds had tails that projected beyond the wing tip. Both Shorebirds and Handbook of the Birds of the World state that this is the only feature that distinguishes sooty oystercatcher from the black phase of variable. A visit on Sunday evening allowed me to note that on at least one of the birds the wing feathers were very fresh (revealed during a wing stretch); therefore, the projection of the tail beyond the wing was a real feature and not caused by a shortened wing as the result of abrassion to the wing tip. The length of tail projection was estimated as 4/5th of the distance between the bill base and the start of the eye. It matches perfectly the plate in the Handbook of the
Birds of the World. Whilst I have not yet been able to access volume 2 of the
Australasian Handbook it appears that the birds are sooty oystercatchers. If so, this would be the first proven record for NZ - although Collin Hill photographeda probable
bird a few years ago.

The birds are immatures with dull legs, darkish tip to the bill and a brownish cast to the body feathers that is slightly more noticeable on the upperparts - compared to the

Does anybody know the extent of tail projection demonstrated by sooty oystercatchers
or if variables can ever show tail projection?
Would it be necessary to catch a bird and take biometrics to be certain of the



Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Re: [BIRDING-NZ] sooty oystercatchers at lake Ellesmere?, Brent Stephenson <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU