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On the timing of foraging flights by oystercatchers, Haematopus ostralegus, on tidal mudflats
Daan, S.; Koene, P. (1981). On the timing of foraging flights by oystercatchers, Haematopus ostralegus, on tidal mudflats. Neth. J. Sea Res. 15(1): 1-22
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Daan, S.
  • Koene, P.

    The tidal movements of flocks of oystercatchers foraging on mudflats at low tide and roosting inland behind a dike at high tide were studied and the effects of day-to-day variations in the time of mudflat exposure by ebb analysed. High mean water levels and short low tides led to reduced intake during low water due to increased bird densities in addition to temporal constraints (Fig.4). Increased feeding around the roost apparently compensated for some of the reduced intake (Figs 6 and 7) although accurate intake measurements could be made for foraging on the tidal flats only. It is argued that optimal timing of foraging flights to coincide with exposure of the mussel bank would contribute to exploitation of this tidal food source. The mean departure time from the roosts relative to the time of mudflat exposure was early on days when the tide went out late and late when the tide was early (Figs 8 and 9). Daily variations in departure time were predicted by the daily variations in tabulated high water times, but not by variations in mudflat exposure or coverage (Fig. 10). The conclusion is drawn that the birds employ a timing mechanism not directly associated with the tidal water movements.

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