Tag Archives: oystercatcher

The Oystercatcher



The previous post focussed on the centuries old tradition of shell-fishing in the estuary but we have competition from nature.

Wander along the Teign estuary and you can’t fail to notice one of the iconic birds of the river – the oystercatcher.  The flashes of their bright orange bills sprinkle the Salty and the mudflats exposed on the ebbing tide.

The Oystercatcher
(Keats Ghost)

Coax a cockle from its cradle of sand,
muscle a mussel off a seaweed strand,
shuck open an oyster if you can …..
….. the oystercatcher can.

The oystercatcher’s tough enough
shuffling and scuffling each seaweed tuft,
sieving the mud and sand and stuff
of the Salty at low tide.

The shrill, the noise of oystercatchers
stilting boisterous on the Salty’s thatch,
thrilling at the bounteous catch
of fruits de mer ….. with samphire on the side.

With mincing gait and shrug of the wing
they’re cocks-of-the-walk as they sift and sing,
drifting where the mussels cling
and the cockles and oysters hide.

Coax a cockle, muscle a mussel,
shuck open an oyster if you can …..
….. the oystercatcher can.

Check out alsoThe Oystercatchers Cafe



The Salty

The Salty

Thanks to Marc Woodward for this contribution.

If I had paid for a more sophisticated version of WordPress I might have been able to present this poem differently.  Marc said that the lines were laid out to reflect the flow of water and the tide. The best I can do is centralising the lines which gives a sort of wave effect.

We have moved from the quays of the last post into the river where the “Salty” and other sandbanks lie exposed at low tide and give the oystercatchers and other waders free reign.

(Marc Woodward)

at low tide
there is a wide sandbank
in the river.
a flat island
where gulls peck for lugworms
and the oystercatcher’s shrill call
skims the water.
on summer days
you can canoe to this island
and on the hard wave-slapped sand stay
until the rising turning tide
washes you away.
there in the night,
when land splits the surface,
it cracks a moving, shining mirror,
breaking the moon’s quivering face
into light stippled and
silver rippled, lace-
like sand puddles.
lost and reclaimed, midnight to noon.
this lonely seagiven land,
this land in the call of the moon.

Check outOystercatchers Café’ as well.