There was a second day of beautiful weather and I decided to go out to Inskip Point. It was a very low tide and I hoped to walk right out to the sand island. Over the last couple of months there has been a lot of sand moved around and access to the island is now only at extremely low tides. This is the first time in two or three years that I have seen a change as big as this in this area. I walked out over what looked like sand but must have been mud underneath because I kept sinking over my ankles. There were very few birds feeding over this area - just a few Godwits, Whimbrels, and Curlews - birds with long bills that could get down below the mud. I didn't seen any smaller ones at all until I got out onto the island and went over to the western side where the sand was firm and clean. I found a small flock there of Red-necked Stints, Red-capped Plovers, and Ruddy Turnstones. As I approached they retreated down to the edge of the water but when I stood still and simply watched them they spread out over the sand again and even came back much closer to me.
I had a quick look at the Stints and Plovers and found this one with flags on its leg. From the color combination it has been flagged in China.
There are always lots of Soldier Crabs running over the sand. The Stints and Plovers were spread out over the sand pecking up food away from the crabs. However the Ruddy Turnstones seemed to be getting food right close to the crabs.
When I focused in on them I found that they were actually catching and eating crabs. They seemed to go after a crab that was away from the group - maybe it was easier to target one that could not hide out in among the rest. The following photos were taken within a couple of seconds. Is that a leg or a nipper in the last photo? After a few pecks like this they simply broke the crab right open and demolished it!
I have not seen other shorebirds eating crabs like this although they will all take the occasional peck at the very small ones.
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