White-rumped Sandpiper update

Subject: White-rumped Sandpiper update
From: Rohan Clarke <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2015 21:31:30 +1100
Hi All,
There's been just three emails to birding-aus to date about the White-rumped Sandpiper found by Nigel and Carla Jackett at Shoalhaven Heads, NSW on Monday here on birding-aus so here's a quick summary if you are interested in following it up.

It was found at a high tide roost best accessed from Shoalhaven Heads on the Monday. It's an impressive find - the first twitchable one in Australia for at least 20 years. Remarkably, before the dust had even settled (and before anyone had twitched it??), what is presumably the same bird was refound 9.5 km south (as the sandpiper flies) on the shoreline of Wollumboula Lake early the next morning. The bird was well twitched on Tuesday (but disappeared at times), was not seen on Wednesday as far as I know despite a few people looking, was seen again and well twitched by many on Thursday, Friday and today. At times it dissapears to places unknown but for the main part is happily feeding on the shoreline of the lake directly behind the ocean beach or roosting with stints and other shorebirds in and around the fenced off Little Tern colony.

To access the site drive to the township of Culburra Beach (via Nowra). The main road into town is called the 'The Lake Circuit'. About halfway through town, to stay on this named road, you need to turn right (sounds odd but on checking a map it will make sense). Drive to the end of the 'The Lake Circuit' rd and there is a small carpark, picnic area and playground. Take the steps down to the lake (not the path that leads more directly to the beach), then walk south along the edge of the lake at the back of the beach. From the carpark it's about 450 m to the point were the bird has mostly been feeding - pretty much in line with the fenced off Little Tern colony.

It has been remarkably settled, but like any shorebird doesn't like people walking at it. In contrast birders that have sat quietly and patiently and let the bird come to them have been rewarded with approaches down to 2-3 m. There is something very satisfying about watching a mega shorebird slowly foraging to within a couple of meters of you, pulling tiny marine worms from the sand as it goes, and for it then to wander off again seemingly completely unfazed by the interaction!

The spit is an impressive birding site even without the White-rumped Sandpiper. Good numbers of Little Terns (be mindful that they are breeding but the fencing, signage etc should make that clear) , a handful of Fairy Terns, White-winged Black Tern, Red and Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser Sand Plover and plenty of Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are just some of the other birds that people are connecting with.

A few of my pics are here.


Rohan Clarke

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