The roost at Smooger Point is not counted regularly and I really wanted to know how many waders and how many different species were using this roost during the winter when most birds have gone to the northern hemisphere to breed.
We put our kayaks in at the Carlo Creek boat ramp and paddled back towards Tin Can Bay. The tide pull inside the bay area is not strong but it makes the paddling a bit easier to go with the tide each way.
Most of the birds were using the exposed beach at the edge of the water. On very high tides they retreat up into quite extensive areas of salt marsh vegetation behind this. There are small mangroves fringing this saltmarsh on the water side which makes it very hard to do a count when the tide is high. Yesterday's tide should have been perfect - but as we paddled within sight of the roosting birds we saw a dingo skulking along behind the roosting birds. The dingo was black so possibly one of the ones that have cross-bred with dogs in this area. The birds, of course, were disturbed. The dingo took off but it took a while for the birds to settle again. As well as this there were a pair of Whistling Kites patrolling the area and later also a Brahminy Kite. Often it is possible to get quite close to roosting birds without disturbing them but not after all this. We used a spotting scope and hoped that they would stay settled for long enough to get a good count. We counted 535 birds and saw local birds - Red-capped Plovers, Pied Oystercatchers, a Little Egret, and a White-faced Heron; - as well as overwintering migrants - Red-necked Stints, Great Knots, Greenshanks, Grey-tailed Tattler, Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits, and Eastern Curlew. The highest counts were the Bar-tailed Godwit – 188, and the Grey-tailed Tattler – 185. The Great Knots were in constant motion feeding along the edge of the water. All the other birds were resting. I have seen birds feeding constantly like this right after they come down from a migration flight but I would think it was too early for this species to be returning. I enjoy monitoring the birds like this because I usually end up with more questions for which to try and find answers.