Each year, as Spring settles in, our resident pair of Oystercatchers arrive at Craigclowan and rejoin our family. In so many ways Oystercatchers are loyal birds. They mate for life (and at up to 40 years it can be a long one) and return to the same nesting site each Spring to breed. Ours choose the roof of the kitchen close to the extractor vent where presumably they find not only the warmth, but perhaps also the smell of Gordon’s cooking, agreeable. Their preparations are a real delight to watch. To begin with they re-acquaint themselves with the site and, I like to think, critically view any changes that we have made since they were last here. They then proceed to feed richly on the worms from around the site before carefully scraping their nest amongst the pine needles on the kitchen roof. For several weeks, while one of them sits in the nest and keeps the eggs warm, the other continues to feed and keep guard on the ridge of the roof to scare off any predators who might be prowling. A shrill warning call from the nesting partner will bring the other rushing home to defend and protect the nest.
There is so much that we can learn from nature and so many lessons that can be learnt when we seek to understand it. For me, the Oystercatchers are an example of the power of teamwork, the benefits of being loyal to people and place and the advantage that can be gained by seeking out the right perspective from which to view the world.
In a few short weeks the eggs will hatch and I will hold my breath hoping that the brood will survive the attacks of the fox, the cat and the buzzard. We can only be passive onlookers in this fight for survival and in this fact there is another lesson. Sometimes we have to accept that, though our instinct tells us to intervene, the right thing to do is to let nature take its course and allow nature’s journey to unfold.
John F Gilmour