Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inskip Point

Bird watching at Inskip Point is always interesting. This is just across the channel from the southern end of Fraser Island which is the largest sand island in the world. There are large numbers of terns, and most of the shorebirds found in the bay can also be seen here. There are also shorebirds here which prefer the more open sea coast and so are seldom seen further into the bay.

At high tide there is a large sand bank in the channel just west of the point. The birds use this as a roost. You can see the larger birds quite clearly out there with a spotting scope. However, kayaking over to the sand bank is even more interesting.

When I went out there last August I saw Double-banded Plovers (Charadrius bicinctus) in almost full breeding plumage. At that time they were getting ready to migrate south to New Zealand where they breed during the southern hemisphere summer. Now they are back in non-breeding plumage and will spend the winter here.

Double-banded Plover in breeding plumage (top above) and non-breeding plumage
When I saw them they were roosting with a flock of small waders. They were all very hard to identify as they sat on the sand with their heads tucked down. When they moved it was easier to see them – Red-capped Plovers, Red-necked Stints and Double-banded Plovers. The Red-capped Plovers are resident here, and the Red-necked Stints are juveniles that have not migrated to the northern hemisphere to breed.

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