Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday 23rd November

Another 2.3m tide today, but this time not a Kentish or Malaysian Plover in sight. Generally there were fewer waders today, though I didn't do a count.

I was amazed to get yet another new wader species for the site when a quick scan revealed a 1st winter Sanderling running around among the Red-necked Stints. Sanderlings are very rare visitors to the state, and to west coast generally, perhaps due to the lack of sandy beaches.

The dark-centred crown and mantle feathers are remnants of juvenile plumage.

Sanderlings are like big, chunky stints. The two-toned plumage, completely lacking brown tones in non-breeding dress, is distinctive, as is the dark 'shoulder patch'.

Other new arrivals were 3 Broad-billed Sandpipers and 10 Marsh Sandpipers. I noticed that, despite the obviousness of the Sanderling, I could 'lose' it for quite long periods - maybe when it was obscured by another bird or a rock. It was a good lesson in what it takes to pick out an unusual bird from a flock. One or two scans is not enough. Sustained observation and repeated scannings are necessary to make sure that you see everything that it actually there.

Despite repeated scannings however, I still couldn't find a Spoon-billed Sandpiper! I wonder how many hundreds of Red-necked Stints I will have to scrutinize before one pops out? I still have a hunch that I'll find one before the migration season is over - or at least a hope!

A flock of sand plovers - mainly or maybe all Lesser, as well as some Red-necked Stints and a lone Terek Sandpiper (3rd from the left)

While scouting around for wood to make a new hide I came across this Common Sandpiper roosting in the remains of one of my former hides!

A closer view.

The pools on the top now seem too disturbed for the waders, so I resorted to building a new hide on the high tide line on the mudflats. Hopefully this will provide me with some opportunities for close up shots during some of the upcoming high tides.

The Coffin, Mark VI

The construction workers were intrigued by my industry, and wanted to know what I was doing. I chatted to one guy from Aceh. He hasn't been back home since the tsunami, which destroyed his village and took the life of his elder sister. I've met several construction workers from Aceh recently, and every one lost at least one family member. None of them seem anxious to go back.

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