Oystercatcher, Fauna in Co. Mayo

This shorebird is very easy to recognise and can be seen all along the coast. It has black head and back and white belly. The long legs and bill are bright orange.

It is up to 42 cm long and can weight about 530 g.

It can be found on sandy and muddy beaches, where it nests on dunes, salt-marches and rocky shores. The bill is used for smashing or preying open mollusc shells such as limpets, cockles and mussels. Also it can dig up worms with its bill. Females are longer-billed and heavier than males.

Despite its name it doesn’t eat oysters, although it is able to open an oyster shell with its strong and long beak.

On Mayo’s coastline many oystercatchers overwinter coming from Iceland and the Faeroe Islands and then go back north for the breeding season.

Its name is Haematopus ostralegus and in Irish it is called Roilleach.