When I went out to Inskip Point last Thursday morning there were still no large flocks of returning migrant shorebirds. However, there were small numbers of shorebirds that would definitely be interesting to photograph. The birds were having a hard time. First there were fishermen very close in to the sand island and all the birds flew up in alarm from there. Some of them came in and roosted on the end of the point where the traffic drives out to take the car ferry to Fraser island. However, once again they were sent flying by a tourist vehicle that decided it wanted to stop right in among the roosting birds! This was the result! All photos enlarge when clicked on. Some of the birds eventually settled down again on the sand. Most were Crested Terns but sheltering in behind them was a small flock of mixed shorebirds that I decided would definitely be interesting to photograph.I first sorted out which were Bar-tailed Godwits and tried to see if there were any still showing signs of breeding plumage - which would definitely indicate they were returning migrants. Even the Godwits present some challenges for ID when there is often a huge difference in size between the large females and the much smaller males. The females also have a much longer bill than the males.The next birds that caught my eye were Plovers still in almost full breeding plumage. I focused in on them and tried to get good photos for ID. At first I thought I was looking at Pacific Golden Plovers - which are the most common of the Plovers around here. However, these ones did not have any hint of gold about the plumage and the edges of the feathers were white tipped instead of cream/buff. Also they looked considerably bigger standing next to the Godwits. I realized these were Grey Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola). We never see Grey Plovers further up the bay.
There were still smaller birds to ID and these looked like Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris). However, looking closer I also saw a Red Knot (Calidris canutus). This bird is easy to ID when it has some of the red breeding color still showing! Also it is a slightly smaller bird and its bill is shorter. One of the Great Knot had flags on its right leg and a metal band on its left. I have sent off details of this bird and hope to hear back eventually just where it was flagged and banded.For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.