Hoematopus ostralegus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 257 (1766) ; Naum. vii. p. 325. Taf. 181 ; Hewitson, ii. p. 305, pl. lxxx ; Gould, B. of E. iv. pl. 300 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. pl. 45 ; Dresser, vii. p. 567, pl. 533 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxiv. p. 107 , Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iv. p. 245 ; Saunders, p. 559 ; Lilford, v. p. 47, pl. 18 ; Poynting, p. 75, pl. 18 ; H. osculans, Swinhoe, P.Z.S. 1871, p. 405 ; Sharpe, op. cit. p. 111 ; Tacz. F. O. Sib. O. p. 843.
Huitrier pie, French ; Ostraceiro, Portug. ; Ostrero, Span. ; Beccaccia di mare, Ital. ; Austernfischer, German ; Scholekster, Dutch ; Tjaldr, Icel. ; Strandskade, Dan. ; Kjeld, Norweg. ; Strandskata, Swed. ; Cagan, Lapp. ; Rantaharakka, Piiski, Finn. ; Morskaya-soroka, Sorotschai, Russ. ; Darya-gajpaon, Hindu.
Male ad. (Sweden). Head, neck, and back deep black ; a small spot under the eye, rump, upper tail-coverts, base of tail, under parts, and under surface of wings white ; quills black, the inner webs margined with white ; larger wing-coverts and some of the inner secondaries white ; tail black on the terminal portion ; bill orange-red, becoming yellow at the tip ; legs purplish flesh-red ; iris reddish ; edge of eyelid orange-red. Culmen 2.85, wing 9.6, tail 4.4, tarsus 1.9 inch. Sexes alike. In winter the white spot under the eye is larger, and a white patch is on the throat.
Hab. The whole of Europe, north to the Arctic Circle ; Iceland ; Greenland ; Africa, in winter south to Mozambique and Senegambia ; Asia, east to Japan, north to Kamchatka, south in winter to South China, India, and Ceylon.
Frequents the sea shores, especially rocky parts, and is comparatively seldom seen inland. Extremely shy and wary, it starts off at the slightest sign of danger, uttering its clear, loud whistle. It feeds on worms, limpets and other shell-fish, young crabs, &c., and notwithstanding its name I know of no evidence of its ever taking oysters. It breeds from the middle of April to the latter part of May, and deposits its 3, occasionally 4, eggs amongst the gravel, or stones, slightly above high-water mark. These are stone-buff with purplish grey underlying, and blackish of blackish brown surface spots and blotches, and measure about 2.24 by 1.52.
Dr. Sharpe grants specific rank to the East Asiatic bird (H. osculans), but I cannot consider it even worthy of subspecific rank, as it only has, as a rule, less white on the outer primaries, and a somewhat longer bill, but even these slight differences do not appear to he constant.
1044. Haematopus ostralegus