It's been a month since I was out on the kayak so it felt really good to have an early morning tide and very little predicted wind until the afternoon. When I got down to the shoreline at Mullens it was a perfect morning! I kayaked about a kilometer and a half north and only saw 3 fishermen across all the expanse of the bay. It was so quiet with the only sounds the calling of bush birds in the bush along the shoreline. I then went around into the wide shallow waters of the site we call the Mullens roost.
Entering the roost from this northern end it can look as if there are very few birds roosting anywhere but sitting still on the kayak and letting the tide drift me slowly southward I could hear Godwits on the west side of the roost and further to the south. The birds must have been sitting and preening and resting here in the shallow water for some time because I started to see feathers drifting on the surface of the water.
Eventually I saw quite large numbers of birds - mixed flocks of Bar-tailed Godwits, Eastern Curlews, Gull-billed Terns and the smaller birds in amongst the vegetation.
Something disturbed all the birds and they flew up and overhead. This photo is of Godwits and one Great Knott. (The Great Knot is slightly smaller and with a shorter dark bill.)
They wheeled above me for a few minutes then came down again in front of me.
I always enjoy seeing the beautiful under-wing feather patterns. Also, stretched out like this in a line it is easier to ID the females and males. When they are in breeding plumage the males are very obvious with a full dark chestnut color down the breast. In non-breeding plumage it is their size and length of the bill which ID's them - the females are slightly larger and have a longer bill.
As they all settled down again I saw this juvenile Godwit. The feather pattern is different in the juveniles but they moult into full adult plumage within a couple of months. It is amazing to think that these young birds have made the direct flight from Alaska at only a few months of age.
There were also a few Great Knots roosting among the Godwits. The Great Knots still have some of the spots and splashes of breeding plumage down their breasts. These will soon fade and the breast will be a creamy white until they again change into breeding plumage next autumn.