We had an excellent day’s birding on Sunday. We went down to Bancoora Beach
at Breamlea and found a pair of Sanderling, 6 Hooded Plover, six Ruddy
Turnstones, a pair of Red-capped Dotterel and a Red-necked Stint.
We then drove around to Barwon Heads to check out the mud flats in the
river. There were at least 12 Curlew, some 60 Bar-tailed Godwits and many
stints, sandpipers greenshanks. My numbers are a bit vague because when we
got out of the car we both realised – we had not bought our scopes! Bother!
As we sat on the bank of the river eating lunch we started thinking about
how to make things happen on a birding trip and came up with:
1) If you want to find some really interesting looking waders on a mud
flat – leave your scope at home.
2) If you want to see a rare bird, or an ordinary bird doing something
rare – leave your camera in the car.
3) If you are looking for a really special bird, a new tick perhaps –
leave your binoculars at the car when you give up the hunt and go behind a
bush for a “call of nature” break.
4) If you want every bird for miles around to disappear – slam the car
5) But conversely – if there are no birds in sight, get someone in the
group to SNEEZE!, really loudly. It is amazing how often little birds will
suddenly appear on top of a bush to see what the noise was.
An interesting thing at lunch was, we found a new bird for Australia, an
Iridescent Wader. Well, actually it was originally a ship assisted bird but
is now well established and is normally known as a Common Starling (*Sturnus
vulgaris*). And normally I think they are very vulgar but yesterday they
came very close to outing Sanderling as “bird of the day”.
There was one particular starling in a group of 7 or 8 that flew out onto
the mudflat and start drilling into crab holes, just as any other good
wader would, until it dug out one of those round mudflat crabs. When it had
the crab out on the sand it seemed to roll it around a bit and then ate it.
And it kept coming back for more. Fascinating. And to make the event even
better the starling was in full breeding plumage, shining and flashing as
though it had been anodised. Really, they can be very beautiful.
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