Still not sure how to narrate an account of an amazing afternoon.
Just over 19,000 birds, most of which were crammed into one rather small ashpond! Here's what it looked like:
Birds were frequently disturbed by overflying Brahminy Kites, allowing lots of opportunities for flight shots, even though they were usually quite distant.
This is what a raptor sees when it flushes the birds - a highly disorientating swirl of flickering patterns and colours, which is just the way the waders want it!
Not to mention the roar of thousands of wings!
The birds head for the open sea, but stay as low as possible, just clearing the perimeter fence and then diving below the level of the mangrove trees to make it difficult for a raptor like a Peregrine to make a strike.
When put up by a raptor, the birds leave in a mad rush all together, but their return a few moments later is a more leisurely affair. Out at sea, they split up into smaller flocks of similar species. A couple of groups of Bar-tailed Godwits and Great Knots planing in.
A Bar-tailed Godwit adds a splash of colour to the monochrome Great Knot flock. There are a few Red-necked Stints in the foreground.
I enjoyed the patterns created by the knot flock heading straight toward me. Apart from Great Knots, you should be able to find a few Red Knots, Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers in this lot.
More knot high-jinks!
Great and Red Knots, and Grey Plovers.
With so many birds, it's very easy to miss things, which is why scrutinizing my photos afterwards is a worthwhile exercise. A Shanghai leg-flagged Great Knot (black over white), not noticed at all on the day!
In flight, the old, faded brown remiges of last year's juveniles (now in 'first summer' plumage) contrast obviously with the fresh black wing and tail feathers of the adults, which underwent a full moult at the end of last year. There are two Red Knots in amongst the Greats here.
A nice comparison of godwits - the gleaming white underwing of the Black-tails and the duller barred underwing of the Bar-tails. The difference in leg length is also striking when the birds are in flight. In Europe, Black-tailed Godwits are larger and longer-billed than Bar-tails; here it's the other way round!
Bar-tailed Godwits here are Whimbrel-sized!
Or maybe the Whimbrels are Bar-tailed Godwit-sized!
The black armpits of the Grey Plovers stand out in this mixed flock.
Moving down the size scale - a mixed flock of Lesser Sand Plovers and Curlew Sandpipers arriving, with two Broad-billed Sandpipers and a single Greater Sand Plover for you to find!
Red-necked Stints, Broad-billed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Lesser Sand Plovers and, again, a single Greater Sand.
A nice selection of underwings! I really wanted to catch the Nordmanns' Greenshanks (centre) in take-off mode, but they were more laid back than the other species!
At last one obliged! For good measure, a Common Greenshank (left) took off at the same moment, giving a nice comparison of the underwings. Also in this photo: Grey Plover, Great and Red Knot, Common Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwit.
Not brilliantly sharp, but a glisteningly white-underwinged 'Nodshank' to finish off this post. Many more pics to follow shortly!