Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spring is here and the Waders are back

Newly returned Sharp-tailed Sandpiper still with some breeding plumage

Spring is here! The days are getting longer and warmer (it is 24ÂșC as I type), leaf-buds are swelling on the trees, flowers are in bloom and, best of all – the waders are returning to the Western Treatment Plant. It is time to shrug off the winter blues and get out for some serious birding.
Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers at the tide line in front of the hide

Curlew Sandpipers, some showing a little breeding plumage

Brolga preening at the Western Lagoons


Last Friday morning I met Marlene beside the "T" Section pond where the Banded Stilts and Marsh Sandpipers were hanging out and we spent the day enjoying the gorgeous weather. How nice it is to go birding with a friend, chat, drink cups of tea and ooh and aah at the newly returned waders, and of course the WTP residents in all their courtship finery.
Newly returned Whiskered Tern

Great Crested Grebe having a bad hair day

Blue-billed Duck, coots and teal

Mother swan giving her family of swanlettes lessons in swimming with one leg tied behind their back

It is also great fun to try and pick out the vagrant, the rarity or the otherwise unexpected from amongst the thousands of newly returned waders. The vagrants and rarities eluded us but to find a pair of Caspian Tern standing in the drying puddle at the "T" section was definitely unexpected.
The Caspian Terns on the "T" section lagoon

Regarding an earlier post about the colour of corvid's legs being yellow/cream rather than black, I had three theories given. (1) It is possible that the colour changes as the birds age. (2) It could be health or diet related and (3) The legs are coated with dirt or sand from their desert environment. I don't know the answer so I will try and find more instances and better photos.

I have also had another report of Welcome Swallows feeding on larvae from beneath the water surface, this time on a farm dam on the east coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. This is a long way west of all other reports but is still, just, on the northern edge of Bass Strait. All other reports have been on the Tasmanian or Victorian coasts of Bass Strait.

All images & text © Jenny Spry