Blogger says this is my 500th Post! I decided this was a good time to look back to when I first got interested in shorebirds and before I started this blog.
I moved to this area in 2003 and had a house built and began planting a garden. I joined a group that took regular walks into the surrounding bush and started learning about the local plants and flowers. However, what I really wanted was to learn about the shorebirds that came here. There were notices about shorebirds around the foreshore but when I asked for a local person who could help me learn about the birds I was told there was no-one! The one person who was especially knowledgeable about birds had moved away the previous year.
I walked all the tracks through the bush that I could find and usually ended up somewhere around the bay. At low tide I walked out across the sand flats and explored the edges of the bays this way. I saw and photographed beautiful scenery - but not much else! (My camera was a 3 megapixel Kodak with 4x optical zoom. The following photos were taken with that camera.)
I bought a kayak so I could explore the bay from on the water not just beside it. At high tide I paddled into all the little inlets and creeks I found and eventually started seeing shorebirds.
By this time I had been introduced to a couple who came down from Gympie once a month to count shorebirds around the Tin Can Bay foreshore and at the one roost accessible by land at the Cooloola Cove end of the bay. Then I was lucky enough to be introduced to someone doing surveys on the Noosa river and was able to join her group as well. The problem was that I was still seeing birds I could not ID. I had no background in bird watching and so did not even have the language to describe what I was seeing!
Then I read about multi-zoom cameras! I bought a Canon S2 which had a 12x zoom and I added an extender which increased the zoom to 18x. Finally I had a record of what I was seeing. I took multiple photos of everything! When a bird moved I had photos of what it looked like from all angles and how it looked as it moved. My friend from the Noosa river surveys ID'd individual birds for me from my photos. I gmailed photos to her and then we used gtalk and she talked me through the ID and used the right words for the descriptions of the parts! Then I tried to ID similar birds from other photos. I also re-examined photos of flocks of birds and tried to find some that didn't quite fit the pattern. (These photos were taken with the Canon S2)
A large flock from the Crab Creek Roost site. Eastern Curlew at the back, Bar-tailed Godwits - majority of the flock, Pacific Golden Plover in the front.
I built up my own photo reference library of shorebirds from around my area. I kayaked to roosts with only water access. I came to really appreciate why the Great Sandy Strait is listed under the Ramsar convention as a wetlands of international importance. I share my enjoyment of the birds and the local environment by writing articles for our local paper and this blog.