Over the last few weeks we have seen Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) in several places around the bay where we have never seen them before. This last week I saw four at the Crab Creek roosting site, roosting with other shorebirds. Black-winged Stilts live in Australia all year and are only nomadic to different wetlands within the country. They have a most distinctive call which sounds rather like a very small puppy yipping.
When I first saw the birds at Crab Creek they were roosting with a large flock of Bar-tailed Godwits. I had never seen them standing beside Godwits before and their very long legs almost made the Godwits look short and dumpy!
Over the last few weeks I have had several comments and questions about kayaking with a camera so I thought I would explain what I use and how I use it.
I have a sit-on-top kayak made by Viking. Kayaks such as this are more closely related to wave skis than to the traditional kayak. I wanted something that was very easy to slide on and off - especially if I turned it over when I was out by myself on the bay. I had a shorter and wider model when I first started kayaking around here but - after a white-water kayak, with my son, down one of the rivers in the Olympic National Park in Washington State I wanted something a bit faster and more manoeuvrable! The flat waters of the bay were pretty tame after the white water of the river! Viking kayaks have a seat moulded into the hull of the kayak but I also have a stiffened fabric seat which attaches to the kayak and gives a better back rest.
I carry my camera in a Pelican case which are advertised as unbreakable, waterproof, and dustproof. These cases are totally sealed and on the few occasions mine has dropped off the kayak it has floated perfectly! I have it attached to the kayak with rope and also under some stretchy fastening behind me. When I get to where I want to take photos I can loosen the case from behind me and open it on my lap and take the camera out. Of course I only do this when the water is nice and still! Birds will let you get much closer on the kayak than when you are walking on shore. I get into position some way from the birds and let the tide and wind push me in closer. Waving a paddle around is guaranteed to make any bird take off. I know I have done a good job when I take my photos and then slowly push my way out again levering the paddle against the sand under the water - all without disturbing the birds!