During this past week, the multitudes of waders here at Price SA are
beginning to develop traces of breeding plumage. New moult is appearing
on Red Knot, many of them showing a mottling of firebrick red on their
flanks and lower breast. The black arrowhead shapes and large spots of
the Great Knot are becoming larger and more contrasting while the rufous
chestnut and black markings of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Turnstone
are becoming brighter and more contrasting too. However Red-necked
Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and
Marsh Sandpiper are not showing much change in appearance yet.
Across the extensive coastal sand flats of northern St Vincent Gulf, the
behaviour of local waders also appears to be gearing up for their
impending migration. A flock of hundreds will suddenly take wing,
wheeling and weaving rapidly in tight formation. Such spectacular
flying will be seen more often in the next month or so being typical of
their behaviour prior to departure.
Over the township waders are often heard calling on moonlit evenings,
the brightest nights always coinciding with spring (lowest low) tides
when their favoured feeding areas beyond the mangroves are exposed
most. At this time of year, roosting is observed mainly near high tide
but feeding activity appears to be almost continuous outside of this and
is especially vigorous during the ebb tide. The result of all this
feeding activity is pleasing to see. The waders rapidly putting on
extra condition with plump healthy looking birds to be seen everywhere,
their colourful appearance improving day by day as they build up energy
reserves preparing for the most arduous journey ahead.
Are others observing waders colouring up elsewhere?
Price, South Australia.
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