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BTO Blueline
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BTO Blueline
Haematopus ostralegus

Oystercatcher © Tommy Holden

Conservation listings

Europe: no SPEC category, secure
UK: Amber (>20% of European breeding population, >20% of East Atlantic Flyway population in winter, localised wintering population)

Long-term trend
UK: rapid increase
Status summary
Oystercatchers increased along linear waterways between 1974 and 1986, as the species colonised inland sites across England and Wales (Gibbons et al. 1993). Thereafter, the WBS index stabilised, so showing a pattern parallel to that in winter abundance revealed by WeBS (Musgrove et al. 2001). BBS data since 1994, which include birds in a broader range of locations and habitats, suggest increase in England but decline in Scotland. The increase in nest failure rates for the 27-day egg stage (25 days for incubation and 2 days for laying) probably results from the spread of the species into less favourable areas. The trend towards earlier laying can be partially explained by recent climate change (Crick & Sparks 1999).
WBS UK graph
Table of population changes for Oystercatcher
Source Period
Years Plots
Alert Comment
WBS waterways 25 1975-2000 23 112 68 165    
  10 1990-2000 29 3 -13 30    
  5 1995-2000 31 4 -8 19    
BBS UK 8 1994-2002 231 -18 -26 -9    
BBS England 8 1994-2002 106 19 -1 43    
BBS Scotland 8 1994-2002 116 -24 -35 -12    
BBS acknowledgement
BBS UK graph
BBS England graph
BBS Scotland graph
Table of productivity information for Oystercatcher
Variable Period
Years Mean
Trend Predicted
in first year
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 33 1968-2001 104 None        
Daily failure rate (eggs) 33 1968-2001 111 Linear increase 0.0133 nests/day 0.0205 nests/day 0.0072 nests/day  
Laying date 33 1968-2001 46 Linear decline day 137 day 130 -7 days  
Clutch size graph
Insufficient data on brood size
available for this species
Egg nest failure graph
Insufficient data on nestling failure
available for this species
Laying date graph
Insufficient data on CES
available for this species
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This report should be cited as:
Crick, H.Q.P., Marchant, J.H., Noble, D.G., Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Coombes, R.H.,
Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Joys, A.C., Leech, D.I., Raven, M.J., Robinson, R.A. and Thewlis, R.M. (2004)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2003.
BTO Research Report No. 353. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2003)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 16 February, 2009