Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shorebirds at Low Tide

  I had another post ready to go - but at this time of the year I don't get too excited about bush birds! There are thousands of shorebirds around the bay just waiting for me to find them and photograph them! So! - this morning I went out to Inskip Point to see what was around at low tide  - which was a bit before 8am. Even if there were no birds close enough to photograph I could have a look at what the tides were doing to the sand around the point and see if there was any recent build up to make up for all the sand that was washed away in late winter. It looked as if the steep edges were being rounded and filled in but no other return of sand that I could see.(Nothing exciting enough to photograph!)
The weather forecast said mainly sunny - but the clouds were coming over and the sunshine was only intermittent. Looking east along the channel to the open sea.

Looking west out to the sand island - there were numbers of pelicans out there and lots of terns.

I have recently seen lots of jelly fish in the bay and there were a few washed up on the Point.

There was a single Pelican roosting out at the end of the Point but it decided to swim off rather than let me get close.

The wind was quite strong and all the shorebirds that I could see were moving around quite fast as they fed in the soft sand. This Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit were busily feeding just below where the bush track comes out onto the Point.

Further out along the sand this group of shorebirds were feeding quite close together - 2 Godwits, a Crested Tern resting, a Red-capped Plover and ?? I needed to get closer photos to ID the other small bird.
With very slow movements I managed to get close enough. Red-caped Plovers are always so inquisitive that they seem to convince other shorebirds that it is safe to stay where they are. The other small bird was a Sanderling which seemed just as interested in me as I was in it.

Further out on the sand flats I could see another group of smaller shorebirds. I took a while to get close to them as they were feeding and moving all the time. The first photo is of a Red-necked Stint on the left of the photo and a Curlew Sandpiper on the right. Then I managed a closer photo of the Curlew Sandpiper by itself.

To finish off the morning I got a photo of a Grey-tailed Tattler feeding at the edge of the water.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kayaking along the Creek

Every now and again I enjoy kayaking along the creek - even though I know that it is not a place where I will find many shorebirds roosting. The other morning there was a little breeze getting up on the bay but in amongst the mangroves on the creek it was very still and the reflections were perfect.

These mangroves were beginning to come into flower - again a perfect reflection. (Can anyone name it for me?) (This mangrove has now been ID'd as the River Mangrove - Aegiceras corniculatum - thanks Moyra!)

The tide height determines where the vegetation changes from mangrove trees to grass and taller forest trees.

There was patchy cloud in the sky and this made a big difference to the color of the water.

The only bird that stayed still long enough for me to get photos was this Little Pied Cormorant.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday
and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Smallest Shorebirds.

The Mullens shorebird roost is huge and although sometimes the birds all roost together they also roost in separate places that best suit their special needs. When I had finished photographing the larger shorebirds that I posted about last week I backed off and then moved to where I could come in and pull the kayak up on the sand. I had seen small birds moving in amongst the taller vegetation and I knew that if I moved behind them they would happily come out and move along at the edge of the water. These small shorebirds prefer more open spaces to places where the plants grow too tall and thick.They can often be found at the top end of the bay where the water is always shallow and the salt marsh plants grow. Salt marsh plants grow where the tide washes up and over them at regular intervals. (I wrote two pages on salt marsh plants and this special habitat. You can find these pages listed on the right hand column of my blog. There are photos and details of the plants in Page 2.)  In this part of the bay these plants are only a few inches tall and these little shorebirds feed and rest between them. I saw both Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints. Red-capped Plovers are an Australian shorebird and stay here all year. Red-necked Stints are migrants that come down from NE Siberia each year. They are both small birds - about 15cm or 6 inches. The Red-necked Stint is the smallest migratory shorebird to come down to this area.
A Red-necked Stint roosting among the salt marsh plants. (Red-necked Stints only have red necks in breeding plumage.)

Two Red-capped Plovers and a Red-necked Stint on the right.

I know I have not disturbed the birds when some - or most - have their eyes closed and are sleeping!

All Red-necked Stints except for one Red-capped Plover on the right foreground.

There are usually a pair of Oystercatchers roosting somewhere around the bay. This time one was resting on a sand bank and the other was feeding further around the bay.

As I turned around and looked right out to the entrance to the bay I saw a line of pelicans swimming in.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mullens in the Morning

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.

For more scenery from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more birds visit Wild Bird Wednesday.