On Saturday 16th March, I leapt into the car at 4am, and set off for Marlo
(from Melbourne). At 8.10 am I pulled up at Mots beach, the tide was coming
in. (high tide was at 10.30am approx.). Not fancying wading on my own in a
rising tide, I traveled another 2 kms east to French's beach/narrows. (this
is some 2.5 kms east of where the snowing meets the sea. A wooden boardwalk
takes you over the inlet and some of the marsh to a second smaller inlet/bay
(blue lagoon). this is easily walked around, then over the dunes and onto
the beach. Crossing the boardwalk I could hear eastern whipbirds calling in
the bush between the road and the lagoon. There are few clouds in the sky.
With the GPS on I set off west back towards the end of the spit. With head
down and trying to walk on the firmer sand without getting my feet wet as
the waves were coming up the beach. I was going at 5 km/h and arrived at the
spit some 30 minutes later.
I first saw 3 or 4 red capped plovers at the top of the rising tide, and
then saw a line of roosting birds in the sand across the spit, at right
angles to the beach. I set up the scope and worked my way through them. The
first bird I looked at was the right size, but the wrong coloring - buff
around the eye and no white collar - the first of about a dozen double
banded plovers, the other birds were either red capped plovers or red necked
stints, until the one on the end. This was grey back, white front and for
its size a prominent black bill, - my first sanderling. I then ( still about
80 metres short of the end of the spit) crossed over the spit to the inland
lagoon side of the spit. Initially seeing nothing other than all the gulls
and crested terns at the very end of the spit on the spit, then I noticed
one small wader after another running between bits of seaweed/ driftwood.
There were dozens of small waders running around or sheltering from the
wind, motionless behind anything they could find. Setting up the scope I
worked through them. More RC plovers, even more RN stints, a bit further
away (at the very end of the spit on the seaward side, were 3 hooded
plovers. My first really good views of HP( only previously seen in flight,
several years ago). After an hour of checking out every single bird, no
Ringed plover. Well it must have headed North?
I then searched through the terns, 1 caspian tern and about two hundred
crested. I found 1 bar tailed Godwit on the opposite spit - across the
water) I was then having a quick scan back over the spit when I picked up
the ringed plover, its white all round collar quickly distinguishing it from
the other birds. It had orange legs and the white both in front and behind
the eye. I then approached a bit closer and took some photos ( 70-150 zoom
with double adapter). I should have brought my 400 lens ( with double
adapter = 800 mm, trouble is it weighs a ton and is as long as my scope). I
settle down and watched through the scope for a while with my field guide
out. I was glad Mike Carter had already identified this one as not a
semipalmated plover, because there is not a lot of difference.
At about 11 am, I started the trek back to car.
I had a quick drive down to Cape Conran ( 16 kms further east - seeing a Sea
eagle and Marsh harrier in flight on the way. Followed by a four hour drive
Another twitch satisfied.
John Crane Australia
* 61.3.9289.4777 'phone
* 61.3.9289.4788 fax