Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday 11th December

The tide is bad all week (again!) but I went to the site to take another look at the plovers, since I am trying to write up something on them.

The tide was way out and I could see the Malaysian and Kentish Plovers feeding on an exposed sandbar in the distance.

The same trio of Little Ringed Plovers was hanging out on the construction site and they again allowed close approach.

After taking a few pictures of them I went to the sandspit where the river flows out into the bay to watch the Redshank flock. I counted 420 Redshanks, and there were 5 Greenshanks, a Marsh Sandpiper and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers in with them. I spent quite a while scrutinizing a Redshank with all grey legs, trying to make it into something else. In the end I concluded that the colouration was probably due to the mud rather than an aberration. It was obvious that the tide wasn't going to bring the birds within photographic distance, even though a fisherman in a small boat unintentionally helped to shepherd the birds a little closer to me.

In the end I put the camera away and set up a hide for when the tide is better, since I've noticed that the Redshanks always roost at this sandspit. That was when a Black-winged Kite decided to fly over me and land on a nearby bush. Birds seem to know when the camera isn't there!

The Coffin Mark VIII - my most ambitious design yet - complete with natural foliage! I realise that I'm getting a bit obsessive about building hides - maybe it's a territory-marking thing!

Back at the mudflats in the late afternoon, the tide started coming in somewhat, and the plovers came up to roost on the sandy foreshore, and I was able to do a partial count. Once they squat down they are incredibly difficult to spot. There were at least 12 Malaysian and 5 Kentish, though when they flew I counted 27 birds (including a couple of Red-necked Stints). They flew into the light so I wasn't able to differentiate between the two species of plover.

The plovers feed on the sandbar in the distance to the left of centre. They roost on the sandy area in the middle of the picture, to the right of which you can see yet another hide - Mk IX!

Behind me, the housing development moves ever closer.

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