Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shorebird Variety

The other day I kayaked around to the Mullens roost area again.  It may seem as if it would be boring to visit the same places time and time again but shorebirds are never exactly where you expect to see them and there are never quite the same birds.  Every tide is different at a roost like this where the gradient is very shallow and even an inch or two difference in tide height makes quite a difference in where the water reaches.  It wasn't a very high tide so I couldn't get very close to the birds in the kayak.  However, it was a beautiful still morning and that makes photographing the birds so much easier.  I have had several comments recently from blog readers about photographing from a kayak - but when the water is this still it's just like sitting down in a nice easy chair!  In this photograph I had tied the kayak to the little mangrove and walked up on to the bank to get closer to the birds.  I also dropped all my extra gear onto the kayak where I had been sitting - so the kayak looks a bit messy!

As I was walking around on the eastern side of the roost a flock of little birds took off from the other side. They wheeled around in flight then went down and roosted very close to where they started from.  As they flew their wings showed very white but then as they flew directly at me only the heads and leading edges of their wings showed well. These birds were part of the flock of Lesser Sand Plovers that I often see here.  (Click on photos to enlarge and get a better view of the birds!)

I wasn't going to see too much more of them from where I was standing so I got in the kayak again and paddled over to the western side of the roost.  I could see most of the bigger shorebirds were over on that side.  Again, I tied the kayak and walked slowly towards the birds.  There were some low growing mangroves and I managed to get quite close to the birds by staying behind these mangroves.  There were good numbers of Gull-billed Terns and Bar-tailed Godwits.

In another part of the flock there were quite a few Great Knots roosting with the Godwits, and further over some Eastern Curlews.
The small birds - Lesser Sand Plovers -  that I had seen in flight before were now roosting among the salt marsh plants.

However, they were still not very settled and eventually moved so that most of them were standing in the shallow water.

There were also smaller numbers of Red-capped Plovers, and Red-necked Stints.  It was not until I got home and had a much closer look at my  photos that I realized there was  a bigger bird roosting with the Red-necked Stints - a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.  We don't often see these birds at this roost.

By the time I decided it was time to start kayaking back to the car park, the breeze was beginning to get up and there were a few clouds gathering in the east.  As I kayaked out from the roost and into the bay I saw a long line of birds almost in silhouette across the bay.   It was a group of about 30 pelicans.

The worst part of any kayaking trip is getting the kayak up on the car and then getting home to wash the salt off the car, the kayak, and myself!

 For more bird photos from around the world visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


  1. Beautiful spot to kayak great photos of all the birds.

  2. great job. the pelicans are really cool. i liked the purple and green colors in the grasses with the shorebirds scattered in them.

  3. Liked the narrative as much as the pictures Mick. The Pelicans look so serene in a line like that. A great variety of waders again - I'd love to try that birding from a kayak just to see how close I'd get.

  4. Thanks for letting me look over your shoulder at these amazing birds you captured.

  5. Love to see your nice Summer pictures :)
    I could easily change place with you right now! Glad you liked my snowy birds. Oh, and I would like to see all of that pelicans, fantastic sight! Great photos!
    Greetings from the other side of the globe! /Pia

  6. What a great trip, I love all the shorebirds! The Pelicans are cool birds and one of my favorites. Great shots, thanks for sharing your world birds.

  7. Like you, I'm never bored when tracking along the same path day after day, because we never know what surprises may be in store. I hate to say how many times I have ID's a bird only after seeing its image on the computer screen. On a positive note, it save time in the field. My field guide is an app on my iPod and it is too much trouble to access it unless there is an urgent need.

  8. Cool shot of the Western Sand Plovers coming at you Mick! Congrats on spotting the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper as well. It takes a lot of persistence to ID those shorebirds in the field. I can't tell you how many times I have found birds in an image on the computer that I never saw in the field.

  9. All your work getting there and back pays off with some wonderful bird sightings.
    I can imagine being out there in the quietness is also an appealing aspect of the adventure.
    Nice work Mick!
    Aside from the birds I like that reflection shot of the kayak as well.

  10. Great trip and you spotted lots of birds. I often spot things in pictures only when I load them onto the computer.
    Really enjoyed the pelicans.

  11. Terrific post and great images! Nice looking 'yak! Every time I read your posts I can smell salty air and low-tide mud. Thank you!

  12. Beautiful photo series showing.
    Can see that you also sailing kayak - we also sail kayak and took some pictures of birds on the lakes.
    Wish you a good day :)
    Hanne Bente

  13. Each time I read one of your posts the "I should get one of those" thought pops into my had - but I'm not sure I have the habitats around me that would make it worth while! More thinking needed by me!

    Nice post.

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW - Stewart M

  14. wow, that´s a lot of birds and a nice looking kayak. :)

  15. Great shots! Loved the photo of the pelicans all in a row!

  16. Gorgeous shots! I love the large flocks of birds you have there.

  17. The plovers are lovely! I don't think there is anything wrong with visiting the same site, it's great really getting to know a site and who lives there.

  18. My dream location would be to live somewhere where I could see shorebirds every day. I know there would be something different each time. Thanks for sharing yours!