Oyster Catchers feeding on Patella vulgata

Walking along Torquay Road, Torquay, S. Devon in the vicinity of Corbyn Head on the evening of 26th July 1958s in company with my wife and daughter, I looked over the cliff wall to the Livermead Sands and saw seven Haemotopus ostralegus (Oyster-catchers) running about the low flat topped sandstone rocks below. A little weed and a fair number of Patella vulgata could be seen attached to the sides of the rocks, which were divided by narrow gulleys. The birds were either in pairs or singly, and their antics seemed comical to watch.

The rock nearest to us was occupied by a single Oyster-catcher, the bird would run across the rock waggling its head and making a rather low gutteral call like 'Kleep Kleep'. Near the edge of the rock the bird would stop abruptly, turn and run in the opposite direction, then when near the edge of the rock it would again stop abruptly, and with a quick thrust of its beak would knock a limpet into the shallow water. It was quickly retrieved and carried apex downwards and placed on the rock. The bird would then secure the mollusc with its left foot, and proceed to peck the limpet from its shell, The operation of devouring tho mollusc was quickly accomplished, when the bird would start its antics again. We saw the birds secure a good number of Patella, in this way.