Catch of the day: oystercatchers

Oystercatchers! Go back!” My husband turned the car around and pulled into a parking spot at the Snook Nook.

We were headed north for a walk in the scrub yesterday afternoon, but made a quick detour for a special bird.

Next to the Snook Nook is Fredgie’s World Famous Hot Dogs. The roadside stand lures lots of people to stop for a quick lunch in fresh air at the edge of the Indian River Lagoon in Jensen Beach.

They are famous for the “fredgie” which is a hot dog on a bun topped with chili… and peanut butter. Really.

On the left side of the photo, you can see the dock with the oystercatchers. I spotted them from the road on the right, Indian River Drive.

It was a very windy day, and the surface of the lagoon was pretty rough. The docks and narrow beach here are a popular “hotspot” for birdwatchers to see a variety of gulls and terns.

According to eBird, 78 different species of birds have been spotted at the Snook Nook.

I think this Fredgie’s gull is a juvenile Laughing Gull in the first winter of its life, and already a fearless scavenger of French fries.

The Snook Nook sells everything you need for catching this region’s most popular sport fish, the snook, and more.

I have only seen oystercatchers a couple of times in Martin County, and only photographed one once in May of 2018, at the causeway park under the bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island.

“Bait” for oystercatchers is oysters.

American Oystercatchers dine almost solely on saltwater bivalve mollusks, including many species of clams and several oysters and mussels, and to a lesser degree limpets, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, marine worms, and crustaceans such as lady crabs and speckled crabs. Oystercatchers walk slowly through oyster reefs until they see one that is slightly open; they quickly jab the bill inside the shell to snip the strong adductor muscle that closes the two halves of the shell. 

Maybe if we had more healthy oyster beds in this area, as in days of old, we would see more oystercatchers. A wonderful local organization, Florida Oceanographic Society, is working on oyster reef restoration.

Do your part by eating oysters from local restaurants listed at the link!.. FLOOR. Or volunteer to bag oysters and help construct reefs.

More on Martin County’s Oyster Reef Restoration Program, including a reef location map.

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