South Island Pied Oystercatcher

South Island Pied Oystercatcher

South Island Pied Oystercatcher (SIPO) Haematopus finschi

A South Island Oyster Catcher from New Zealand had been reported at Chowder Head in Sydney Harbor. This is a rather rare vagrant for Australia, they only show up here occasionally. I went there when the tide was almost at its lowest point and met two other birders who had been searching for the bird for an hour or so. But they had only spotted it briefly on a distant island. After 15 minutes further waiting, I saw a bird flying in, which looked very much like an Oystercatcher.

It did not come to the expected place, but went "around the corner" and got out of sight. We packed up and moved slowly to the place where it had gone - and there it was: Feeding at a low lying rock. We approached it carefully; the bird must have seen a lot of birdwatchers in the last couple of weeks, because it was absolutely unimpressed by our presence.

All I needed to do was taking photos and wait until the tide was coming so high that the rock went under water. That was the sign for the bird to relocate and it moved to its usual spot - allowing me some flight shots which clearly show all the characteristics, which separate a SIPO from our normal Pied Oystercatcher.

The last two photos in the album show shots of SIPOs taken in New Zealand for reference purposes.

More SIPO info can be found here: http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/south-island-pied-oystercatcher

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