I thought I would share some comments on movements of shorebirds between
"wintering" areas in eastern NSW. These resulted from the recent sighting
of a Baird's Sandpiper at Pitt Town Lagoon, Windsor, as reported by Chris
Gladwin. While the following falls in the category of pure speculation,
it may be interesting to someone.
On several occasions during November I visited the Big Pond on Kooragang
Island, Newcastle, to observe "wintering" shorebirds. On 16 November, I
noted approx. 250 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and had a good look at a
Pectoral Sandpiper. I also noted a possible juvenile Baird's Sandpiper as
follows: "intermediate in size between Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and
Red-necked Stint with which it was associating on edge of water. Back
appeared more brownish-grey and was conspicously scalloped in appearance.
Profile was low and elongated, but I did not get a good look at the
primary projection. Bill was black and shorter than that of Sharp-tailed.
Breast was finely streaked and washed buffy in noticeable band. Legs,
however, did not appear black. When I tried to approach by walking around
edge of pond, birds flew and I was unable to relocate this individual."
On the following day, the flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers was still
present and included 5 Pectorals; they may have been there the previous
day as well. The possible Baird's was not found for confirmation. On 21
December, the number of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers had increased to about
400. By early January, however, Big Pond was almost dry and only held a
few resident Red-capped Plovers. A group of about 50 Sharp-tailed
Sandpipers was located at nearby Ash Island.
This is where the speculation comes in. The movement of Sharp-taileds out
of Big Pond seems to coincide with the appearance of good numbers of
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at Pitt Town Lagoon in January. I believe up to 5
Pectoral Sandpipers were noted with the Sharp-taileds as well. A Baird's
was seen there in December, as was apparently still in the general area
The above leads me to speculate that these sightings at Pitt Town were of
birds which had previously staged at Kooragang Island.