Monday, August 25, 2008

They're Back!

Yesterday I went out to do the monthly count of the site at Crab Creek for the Queensland Wader Study Group. I was expecting the same small winter count that I have had now for several months – a few Red-capped Plovers and Pied Oystercatchers and not much more. BUT instead the migratory waders are back! I guess I should say that very small numbers of waders were there but it's a promise that the big flocks of summer migrants are on their way. Winter is almost over!

First a little about the site. This site is only accessible by water so I kayak over to it to do the count. Crab Creek is at the southern end of the town of Tin Can Bay. The creek is bordered by mangroves which make an almost solid wall on both sides. On the south side of the creek behind the mangroves the area opens out into a large shallow area of water and then behind this again an area of sandbanks and saltmarsh. During the winter the site is seldom used by migratory waders but in the summer we have counted over a thousand birds here. Right now the saltmarsh plants look dark and dried up. (This is where Red-capped Plover are usually seen.) The only ones showing any color are the Suaeda Australis. (I hope this name is right – this is how it has been identified for me.)

Yesterday the first indication I had that there were waders was the sound of Eastern Curlew. They were well hidden on a sandbank among some small mangroves. I did not want to disturb them so did not go too close but unfortunately one sighted me and then they were all off.

There was a small group of Bar-tailed Godwit which were sleeping and didn't disturb.

Pacific Golden Plover looked at me but stayed where they were. One still had splotchy black patches – the remnants of breeding plumage.

Whimbrel were further back and too far for good photos. I also saw Red-capped Plover, Pied Oystercatchers, Masked Lapwing, White Ibis, Little Pied Cormorant, and a Little Egret. To make a great finish to the day this Osprey was sitting on a dead branch next to a nest. I could not see anything in the nest but I do not think that the gentle noises the bird was making were for my benefit!


  1. Some great birds there! Love the osprey - never seen an Australian one. Pretty common where I was in Scotland although they are now considered a different species.

  2. Thanks Mosura. We see Osprey quite often up here and I know where another nest is that I must go and look at before too much longer.

  3. Nice catch for the day, You'll probably get a lot of birds this season (if it does not improve drastically) from SA with the Murray, our lakes and dams dry.
    Good luck with your count!

  4. Hi Arija, I think all Aussie birders are anxiously watching what will happen with the very dry season down your way.

  5. Seems like you had a beaut day Mick. Looks a nice spot. Don't think too many waders have got down here yet.

  6. It was a great day Gouldiae and so good to know that summer is almost here.

  7. You're doing it again Mick, making me jealous with your wader sightings ;-)

  8. Hi Duncan, Hope you don't get tired of hearing about all the waders because that's all I'll be watching for the summer. I was out again today walking around the bay and it was great to hear their cries again after a rather silent winter.