This is a great time of year. The migratory shorebirds are all returning. I know that I posted about the first ones I saw about a week ago but it seems to me that listing the new birds I see is not enough to celebrate their accomplishment. Each year this bird marathon takes place. They start off from different places in different countries and join in a flight down here to Australia. So here's to you bird athletes! I applaud your abilities and your accomplishments!All winter long the bays and sand banks have been empty but now there are scattered groups and long lines of birds standing together at high tide. Some are so hungry that they continue to hunt for food on the edge of the salt marsh as the tide comes in. Some stand at the edge of the bay, and some stand right out in the water and must retreat with the rising tide. All are a little restless as if they can't quite take in that this is journey's end and they are safe. Later on I will be able to approach quite closely without them doing more than blink a sleepy eye at me but for now I will stay well back and let them learn to relax in the safety of this bay.
All the birds are champions, but for me some merit special attention for their accomplishments. I always look first for the Bar-tailed Godwits. Maybe this is because my father showed me these birds when I was very young. Even he, however, could not have realized how remarkable their migration really was since it was only last year that satelite tracking proved their non-stop flight of approximately 12,000 kms from Alaska to eastern Australia or New Zealand.
The largest – the Eastern Curlew are hard to miss especially since their cries alert all the other birds to the presence of the bird watcher. The small ones such as the Lesser Sand Plover, and the Red-necked Stint settle down among the salt marsh plants and make it very hard to get good photos of them. However, this is becoming a list again so I shall just say: Welcome back shorebirds! You give me pleasure just by being here.