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Baird's Sandpiper on the Gold Coast, SE Qld

To: <>, <>
Subject: Baird's Sandpiper on the Gold Coast, SE Qld
From: "Paul Rose" <>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 09:08:23 +1100
See, all the good birds are on the other side of the fence !


Paul Rose
Year 9 Purple Team
Department of Biology and Chemistry
Wesley College - Glen Waverley
620 High Street Road
Glen Waverley  3150
(03) 9881 5426



>>> "Ian Gynther" <> 11/12/03 09:04pm >>>
Hi there,

For your possible interest, a single Bairdís Sandpiper is presently
at the
Coombabah Wastewater Treatment Plant near the northern end of the Gold
Coast. The bird is using the artificial habitats provided by the
settling
ponds and sludge pits. But before anyone screams off there to look,
please
read the paragraph below about access because the site is not open to
the
public without special arrangement.

The individual was first seen and recognised as something unusual on
the
afternoon of 5 November 2003 when I was with an organised group
visiting the
treatment plant as part of the annual OíReillyís Bird Week
program.
Unfortunately, none of the party had a camera with a suitable lens. I
took
notes and field sketches at the time but was unable to consult
suitable
reference books until my return to Brisbane the following Sunday
evening (9
November). After this, a tentative identification as Bairdís
Sandpiper was
made but because I had failed to note the diagnostic character of the
wing
tips projecting well beyond the tail I exercised some caution about
the
claim.

Yesterday (11 November) I returned to the site with David Stewart
(Brisbane). We were able to relocate and photograph the individual and
confirm the identification. In case Tony Palliser is wondering, photos
and
details of the sightings will be submitted to BARC shortly!

The individual, probably a first year bird, is rather plainly plumaged
with
streaked and mottled brown and buff upperparts and a narrow, faintly
streaked breast band. The underparts are a clean white. On both
sighting
occasions the bird was roosting or feeding with Sharp-tailed
Sandpipers. The
first time it was with just five other Sharpies but yesterday the
flock
numbered at least 200. The target bird stands out by its smaller size
(approx. two-thirds the height of the Sharpies), plainer plumage,
straight,
entirely black bill that comes to a fine point and dark slate-grey
legs.

The best views were obtained on both occasions when the Bairdís SP
was
feeding on the abundant flies (or some other flying insect) in the
shallow
pits that hold dried sludge. However, because this material is heavily
rutted by vehicles, the bird frequently disappeared from sight in the
ruts
and was often hard to detect. Compounding the difficulty in making an
observation is the fact that all the waders appear to get a regular
stir-up
from the local falcons. On 5 November an Australian Hobby buzzed the
flock
and put an end to observations. Yesterday a Peregrine Falcon flew right
over
the flock at only a metre off the ground. Both times the result was
that
almost the entire flock took to the wing and departed. Yesterday they
disappeared over the adjacent mangroves and presumably settled on the
muddy
shoreline of Lake Coombabah. They hadnít returned to the ponds or
sludge
pits by the time we left an hour later.

Please note that the wastewater treatment plant is not open to the
general
public without special permission. The Manager has made it clear that
because of safety requirements and liability issues he does not want
people
entering whenever they please. Furthermore, the facility is closed on
weekends and the access road to the plant is not open 24 hours Ė it
has a
gate that is locked from late afternoon to early morning but the period
of
opening varies on different days of the week. Consequently, access to
the
site for birders is a problem. Itís not all doom and gloom though
because
members of the Gold Coast Bird Observers group have a standing
arrangement
with the facility managers permitting the group to enter the site to
birdwatch on their outings. The best option may be for interested
people to
contact the Gold Coast birders and, providing this group is happy about
the
concept, to visit the wastewater treatment plant as part of one of
these
organised trips. I hope those concerned in the Gold Coast bird group
wonít
resent this suggestion!

Cheers,
Ian

Dr Ian Gynther
Senior Conservation Officer
Conservation Services
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
Southern Region
PO Box 64, Bellbowrie QLD 4070
Tel: (07) 3202 0250; Fax: (07) 3202 6844
E-mail: 




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