Saturday, April 11, 2015

Yellowlegs and oysters

At the mouth of the Nicomekl River, where it empties into Boundary Bay, the native Olympia oysters line the shores and pile up in shallow water. A discarded tire serves as a handy anchor point.

The water here is knee-deep to the long-legged yellowlegs.

The presence of a hard substrate or anchor surface is a key component to colony development, in conjunction with other suitable features such as flushing flows and adequate nutrients and food organisms. ...
Larval oysters tend to affix to the undersides of horizontal surfaces. The young oyster (“spat”) crawls with the foot along the surface of substrate and secretes glue from a “byssus” gland, which attaches the shell to the substrate.  (From Ibis, UBC)

The Greater yellowlegs was wading back and forth in the clear water, looking for food, and occasionally calling loudly. (Listen to his call here; the last of the alarm calls.) There were no other birds to be seen.

Hunting, hunting ... There's gotta be a fish here, somewhere.

Zooming in on the yellowlegs.

When I see one alone, it's hard to tell which it is; Greater or Lesser? Unless they're side by side, they look and act alike. And both species are likely to be found at this end of the Nikomekl.

The two yellowlegs species are very similar. Size is marked different when they appear together and can be compared against each other. Greater Yellowlegs's bill appears slightly upturned and blunt-tipped, while Lesser Yellowlegs's bill is straight and sharp-pointed. Lesser's bill is always dark, while Greater's bill is grayish at the base in nonbreeding season. Voice is best distinguishing character: Greater gives three or four piercing notes, Lesser two rapid, softer short whistles (sometimes or or three). (From Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)


  1. Every time I read your blog I learn something new, and often (like today) several somethings. It's a highlight of my morning.

  2. Wow! Love seeing those oysters. Reminds me that we haven't seen any oysters since we left the Olympic Peninsula. Such a richness there. Beautiful Yellowlegs too!


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