In Ireland the Oystercatcher is associated with Saint Brigid. According to tradition, in the early days of Christianity, not all folk welcomed the teachings of the saint and the godly woman was once pursued along the shoreline by an angry mob. Stumbling on the rocky bank, the saint was covered and hidden in seaweed by a group of Oystercatchers and thus evaded capture. In recognition she blessed the birds and gave them the (faint) sign of the cross on their chests.
The Oystercatcher’s whirling and turning is reputed to have its origins in its dismay at being cheated out of the ability to swim by a seagull who stole its webbed feet.
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