The first turn right over the long Sandgate Bridge from Brisbane on
Route 26 enters Pelican Park, and the bird was at the end of the groyne that
protects the boat ramp on the south side of the park.
The SIPO (South Island Pied Oystercatcher) was with about 15 OZPOs
(Australian Pied Oystercatchers). Its legs were hidden, but we picked it up
in the Kowa by its longer thinner bill and much more white along the lower
margin of the folded wing, particularly at the back. It stretched its wings
to show the extensive white underwing , and eventually stepped forward
enough to demonstrate that the belly feathers extended down to its "knee".
The bill was a little paler at the end, but not as pale as some of the
OZPOs, perhaps this is a function of wear.
The birds flushed when we moved to about 50m., difficult to do
unobtrusively over the granite chunks on the groyne. The SIPO underwing and
back patterns showing much more white in flight .They flushed across to a
smaller groyne near the long traffic bridge, clearly visible from the
highway verge. The New Zealander completely exposed itself on top of a rock,
with three OZPOs adjacent. The SIPO had unmistakably shorter legs, which
were yellow rather than pink.Again the belly feathers reached the "knee",
unlike the OZPOs, which had a clear length of leg above the "knee", and the
white wing margin was very distinctive, as was the longer thinner bill.
The SIPO also seemed slightly chunkier, and its stance was more
lordotic, ie it held its head further back on the body.
During the initial scan of the birds on the groyne,a Pied
Oystercatcher with almost no apparant legs turned out to be an OZPO with no
toes at all, its legs ending at the rounded stumps of its "ankles". It could
walk clumsily on the stumps, flapping, and shuffled around on its "knees"
with tarsi flat on the horizontal face of a rock, but spent most of the
time just sitting on its tarsi, giving the effect of extremely short or no
legs.It looked healthy but a little dishevelled, and moving about was quite
an effort. We christened it the NOTOPO. (sorry)
Many thanks to Bob Inglis for his directions and pictures which made
the tick easy.
Michael and Penny Hunter
50km west of Sydney Harbour Bridge
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