It was great to see the large flocks of birds yesterday but knowing that they had so recently arrived I made sure that I did nothing to disturb them into flight. I kayaked to a part of the sand island where I was furthest away from the flocks. I knew the birds were watching me but so far they had not disturbed. I wanted to get closer so shuffled forward on my knees - very slowly - and stopped when I saw them begin to disturb and walk away. When I stopped they did too. Later in the season when the birds have rested and relaxed more it is possible to get within a few meters of them this way. Right now they are all very nervous and take flight easily. When the noise from the helicopter disturbed them they flew up and circled then came down again even closer to me. I was able to get some interesting photos of the birds in flight. When I put the photos on the computer at home it was interesting to see how many species I could recognize while they were in flight. (None of these are perfect photos but they are definitely good enough to see some details and learn from them.) A photo like this has some birds where wing shape, color, and beak shape are easy to distinguish. With others the wing shape and pattern of flight has to be carefully looked at. (All photos enlarge when clicked on.)
It's always easier when there are only a few birds in the photo.
A flock of similar birds makes its easier again but also lets you see the different wing actions more easily. This is a small flock of Red-necked Stint.
Pelicans really don't need studying for recognition but they are fun to watch. The most ungainly part of their flight is when they come in to land.
As I was getting ready to leave I noticed a bird walking along the edge of the water by itself. I could not immediately recognize it so tried to get close enough for photos that I could crop at home. It was a Ruddy Turnstone - a bird I had not seen until now. I am told that they are occasionally seen here but only in ones or twos. This bird appeared to be by itself. It has two flags on one leg and a metal band high on the other leg. I have sent off a few emails to contact people today and have now been told that the flags identify it as having been flagged on King Island in Tasmania where the VWSG has been studying them for three years. Unfortunately the photo is too small and distant to see the number on the orange flag.