Exe Estuary Oystercatcher Project

May 2018 Update

Any sightings of colour-ringed oystercatchers should be reported to exeoystercatchers@gmail.com


We’re off to a flying start with over 630 re-sightings, mostly at Dawlish Warren where they were ringed on 4th February 2018, but a few have been found elsewhere, as migrants or on breeding grounds around Britain (Bedfordshire, Co. Durham, Derbyshire and Highland, Scotland).  And from Europe; Belgium, Netherlands and two sites in SW Norway, the latter over 700 miles away!    


Of the 150 Oystercatchers fitted with colour-rings, so far 123 have been re-sighted - 82% is a great result.  In addition, 3 of the 40 metal-only ringed birds have also had their rings read in the field. 


Lots of useful information about the birds was collected during the process of ringing and measuring them.  Of the birds caught, 13% were from last year’s breeding season; 15% were a bit older, still immature, and the majority (72%) were full adult Oystercatchers. 


Numbers dropped from a mid-winter peak of 1,200 birds to c.340 by mid-April as birds dispersed to breeding grounds with around 250 birds summering.  Of the 48 colour-ringed birds seen since 20th March, the proportion of adults dropped to only 34% with the majority left behind being immature, non-breeding birds.  This result was partially expected and further study will look to see if these proportion of adults to immatures continue to change further into the summer.


The Oystercatchers have shown high site fidelity with a dozen of them re-seen at least ten times at their traditional roost sites at Dawlish Warren nature reserve. 


A big thank you to all the observers in Britain and throughout Europe who’ve reported sightings.



Please send details of sightings of colour-ringed oystercatchers to: -




Thank you!