I have painted a pair of "tobies" flying low above the water line where they forage for food. The long orange-red bills are also used to pry oysters and mussels from between the rocks and they can push that bill right into the sand to find little fauna underneath. These birds also feed by night! African Black Oystercatchers or Haematopus moquini, called tobies in our area, mate for life, the pair remaining loyal throughout their potentially long lives of up to 35 years.
Black oystercatchers are the most precious birds on the West Coast, being on the Red Data list of seriously endangered birds with less than 5000 in the world. There is a sign at Kabeljoubank warning visitors not to disturb these birds. (visitors to these beaches and rocks are luckily very few) Tobies are not very scared if you keep your distance, and I can sit quietly about 10 meters from them for a long time.
Their nesting habits are problematic as they scratch a shallow nest into sand and sometimes line it with a few bits of shell. With only one to four eggs lying in the open, the dangers are many! The eggs can be trampled, found by dogs or grabbed by other birds and animals. It is a known fact that the conservation people who watch and count the birds will not even tell a well-meaning person where a nest can be found! Human curiosity may just lead a person to try and take a peek and later on someone's dog may follow the spoor!