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!