Monday, March 8, 2010

Curlew Sandpiper

It has been raining for the last nine days! Some days have also been extremely windy. We are lucky not to have had the extreme weather that other parts of southern Queensland has been having but we have still had a total of just over 300mm of rain in this time. None of this weather is any good at all for kayaking out on the bay even though there were very good high tides during this period. The only day that looked good was also the day that a tsunami generated by the Chilean earthquake was predicted to hit the east coast of Australia. I was doubtful that any but an extreme situation would impact on the waterways inside the bay - but no-one had any idea of what height the waves might reach. Since I usually kayak by myself I decided to play it safe and not go out. The tsunami just didn't eventuate so by afternoon when the tide was low I decided to go out to Inskip and see what shorebirds were around on the low tide.
The shorebirds are all getting ready for their northern migration and so are extremely busy feeding whenever they can. By walking slowly I was able to get quite close to this Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) without disturbing it. It just kept feeding across the sand and mud. Some of the time it probed with its beak down into the water - some of the time it just pecked off the surface of the mud - and sometimes its beak pushed down its full length into the mud. It was not showing any red breeding color that will eventually cover all its front.
At low tide the sand flats out at Inskip are always covered with small creatures. Although the soldier crabs are always there in huge numbers most of the shorebirds ignore them unless they find very small ones. (Bar-tailed Godwit and Silver Gull surrounded by crabs.)
I also found a little trickle of water running down into the lower parts of the sand flats with dozens of these tiny fish swimming up it. I am not a 'fisherperson' so have no idea what they
are.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.

17 comments:

  1. Great series of photos Mick well done.

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  2. you got some great photos of the sandpiper! Ugh, rain for NINE days?? Sounds like what happens here in the fall and winter, yuck!

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  3. I love watching the shorebirds feed - they remind me of watching people who are really, really good with chopsticks.

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  4. Hi JN, re the rain - this is supposed to be summer - and all the moisture just makes it that much more humid!

    Hi Wren, I love the idea of chopsticks! Never thought of that before!

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  5. Good thing you were finally able to go out and take some pictures. Lovely shots of the Curlew Sandpiper!

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  6. Thanks Bob, I just wish we would finally see some blue sky! The birds all look brighter and better in sunshine.

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  7. Nice shots! I haven't seen shorebirds (in person) in quite some time now. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  8. And here where its supposed to be the "wet" season we have just had a week with barely a drop of rain - just very hot and humid.
    Lovely series of photos Mick - I'm always glad of your extra comments re colour or habit to assist with ID.

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  9. Great shots of the sandpipers, weird looking fish never seen them before.

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  10. Thanks for commenting Lana, Barbara and Eileen.
    Barbara, I'd be very glad if you took some of your "wet" back up to the tropics where it belongs! However, the BOM is predicting the showers are going to hang around here for at least another few days :-(

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  11. Nice series on the Curlew Sandpipier. I'll be looking forward to seeing some later this year. FAB.

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  12. Nice shots of the Curlew Sandpiper Mick. It is amazing at how adept they are with those long bills isn't it?

    I really like the shot of the Godwit and Gull with the crabs too. These soldier crabs are like hermit crabs, traveling with a shell?

    I don't know what kind of fish those are but they sure are well camouflaged.

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  13. Hi Frank, I'll be very interested to see photos of Curlew Sandpiper when you see them up your way. I didn't even realize they went up that way.
    Hi Larry, there are literally millions of those crabs all over the sand banks. When they all run off through the water they sound like silk rustling.

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  14. Hi Mick,

    Weird looking fish, could they be very young? Those eyes are just huge.

    Hope your weather clears up. Up here in the north we are VERY much looking forward to Spring, after the coldest (and longest) winter in 14 years.

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  15. Mick. We only see them as a passage migrant, mainly in Autumn. Breed in the arctic and winter in Africa but same species.

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  16. Hi Gwendolen - who knows what winter will eventually bring us - its certainly been a very different summer.

    Thanks Frank that's very interesting. My books don't give that amount of detail - just maps of breeding ranges and summer ranges in the south.

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