I always enjoy walking along the edge of the bay in the early morning and yesterday morning was particularly enjoyable. It was still cool enough that walking was enjoyable and there was a little breeze to keep the worst of the biting insects away. The tide had been high an hour or so before I got down there and the sand flats were beginning to be exposed. I had walked along to a little rocky inlet where the shoreline turns. I was looking to see if I could see the pair of Pied Oystercatchers that often sit out there when I realized that there were a lot of small shorebirds out there as well. The only problem about trying to see shorebirds that early in the morning is that the shore runs north and south so looking out over the bay is looking directly into the bright morning light. I walked out towards the birds and they were almost in silhouette against the light.
I slowly went closer but at an angle so that the light would be 'side on' and watched for signs that I was not disturbing them. I had just got into a good position and had taken a few photos which showed that they were mostly Lesser Sand-Plovers when there was a dog's bark from further up the beach and some more morning walkers passed along the beach behind me. Suddenly the birds all flew up and out across the water. There must have been at least two hundred in the flock. Most of them had been invisible hidden amongst the rocks.
I turned to go back closer to the shoreline when I realized that there was another group of birds on another sandbank that had come out of the water by this time. There were more Lesser Sand-Plovers as well as a number of Bar-tailed Godwits. It was interesting to see the difference in size between the two.
The tide was going out quite fast now across the sand flats and as it fell the larger shorebirds moved out into the water to hunt for food. Every now and then I could see their bills probing down into the water after some piece of suitable food. The exposed sand was still covered with a sheen of water and there was movement all over as the smaller shorebirds pecked at the soft sand.
If the weather stays calm then it should be perfect for kayaking in the same area in a couple of days time.
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