03 May 2016

Torea pango, the Variable oystercatcher

Mainland Aotearoa has two species of oystercatchers: the South Island Pied oystercatcher, known to the bird nuts as SIPOs; and this one, Torea pango (literally, 'black oystercatcher'), which also goes by several other names. A third species is found only on New Zealand's Chatham Islands and is critically endangered, with a population of roughly 300 birds.

'Variable oystercatcher' might be the most accurate common name, because although many have entirely black plumage like this bird, others have varying amounts of white and some closely resemble SIPOs. They're found only in New Zealand, and the total population's likely to be about 4–5000 birds.

Because I live inland, I seldom get to see these delightful birds, and it's always a thrill to see them when I'm visiting the coast near Wellington. This one cooperated nicely as I photographed it from the car at Point Howard, at the head of the harbour.

[1/400 at f4; ISO 200]



All content © 2016 Pete McGregor