Wader Weekend

Subject: Wader Weekend
From: "Colin R" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 18:13:56 +1000
I don't know how you feel about waders, but I find them a little
daunting! Visit a mudflat area and they are miles away across the
shimmering sunstruck surface, dancing in the haze, size impossible to
determine, colours distorted. So I go to a roost and, after a few minutes
of looking at thousands of similar shapes and colours, feel my confidence
ebb and I leave deciding they must be all Bar-tailed Godwit. "I didn't
see anything different"...... knowing in my heart that there could have
been ANTHING there and I wouldn't have noticed  - being dazzled by the
sheer numbers!!
So, with this in mind I decided to have a wader weekend on the 4&5th of
January - basically bite the bullet, so to speak! 
Headed up to Toorbull (1 hour N of Brisbane)on Saturday morning. I knew
the location but had not actually visited a high tide wader day till now.
Arrived at 7am, parked the car conviently on the grass sward at the end
of the mangroves and waited. The birds rapidly approached herded by the
tide coming closer and closer. It was perfect, until I realised at the
last moment that the bulk of them would NOT appear on the open stretch I
had so comfortably positioned myself for, but would stand shivering in
the encroaching water on a tiny sand island beyond the mangroves....I
found this out, tried to see them and they flew away. Did note Bar-t
Godwits, Terek Sand, Red-necked Stint, Black winged Stilt,Great Knot,
Curlew Sand, Sand Plovers, Whimbrel and Curlew.....I'll know next time.
Left the roost and, as I drove back along the esplanade, noticed a flock
of 20 Greenshanks in a side pond, then back towards the highway and round
to Bribie. First to the "Kakadu Roost" where I had just settled in to
scan through the Bar-t Godwits and Great Knots (probably the same ones
that had flown from Toorbull across the bay!) when some turkey in a canoe
defied the signage and flushed the massed flock into the middle of the
area making it much more difficult to check each bird. I did see 1 Curlew
Sand and (possibly) the three Little Terns that were posted as possible
Black-naped. (I thought they were too small, just assumed they were
Little?) Nothing much else - so off to Buckleys and the Laughing Gull.
checked through all the waders here too - once again BT Godwits and Knots
-(are they foll me or...? swear I saw THAT one this morning
before....)Usual individuals at the Hole.
By this time I must admit my confidence had NOT ebbed - I was feeling
'happier' with my identification and a little more positive about the
possibility of picking up a 'rarer' wader (I didn't, so if you want to
quit - now is the time!!)    
After lunch headed up to Mt Mee and had a short walk to no real
discoveries... Cicadabird, Forest and Wonga Pigeon, Large-billed and
White browed Scrub Wrens etc. I had planned the afternoon to arrive at
Samsonvale to try for the Painted Snipe about 4.30 - 6pm, thinking this
would be a good time.... I arrived at 4.30 on the dot and walked to the
usual viewpoint to find..... an individual had chosen the EXACT spot to
sit and have a barbeque. Unbelieveable - he couldn't have been more
accurate if he had a map!! I went home in disgust.

Sunday morniung and off to a small swamp area in Murarrie that is not
really for public access but one I visit on weekends without hassle. A
White-Necked Heron and a female Shoveler were nice here. The area had
recently been completely dry - it was nice to see it re-flooded again by
the recent minimal rain. I then went on to Manly. 
Now I know this is a bit controversial and I really don't want to have an
argument with anyone about it, but........ the birds are there, I'm a
birder, lots of non-birders, fisherpeople, dog walkers etc enter the
place and there appears to be no hassle so I too ignored the Construction
site sign, swung round the fence and proceeded to the roost. Lots of B-T
Godwits (again! - they are DEFINITELY following me!)Whimbrel, Curlew, 4
Golden Plover, 5 Grey tailed Tattlers, 70 pied Oystercatchers, 30
Red-necked Stints, Caspian, Little and Gull-billed Terns and 2
Greenshanks. I scanned very carefully for any sign of the American
Dowitchers reported a couple of weeks ago and spent a while wondering
what a (presumably) non-breeding, very grey looking, Sharp-tailed Sand
was doing feeding up in the weeds alone and then stalking a lone Lesser
Sand Plover (I HATE it when they are on their own - my imagination runs
riot!) before calling it a day and getting quite wet on exit as the tide
was now very high and with the SE wind blowing....
Decided to head back via North Wynnum, the dump area. Not too
enthusiastically I must admit. It was now approaching midday - pretty
warm. I was tired and had seen enough Bar-t Godwits....but it was my
wader weekend so....Happily as I arrived in the car park a very
professional looking birder appeared over the horizon, scope on shoulder
and I discovered that there were only regular birds in this roost so
decided to give it a miss.
So ended my wader weekend. i guess I could have gone out to Fisherman's
island....I SHOULD have gone to Deception Bay where Broad Billed Sands
WERE actually seen, however, I'll get one sooner or later....
My point is....I feel better about waders now and look foward to another
wader weekend, I think between seasons one loses the knack a bit... Oh
well, that's my theory anyway.  
  colin reid

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