The prospect of twitching an uncommon bird is one thing that brings
birders together in the field.
Last weekend I was poking around the Manly wader roost checking out the
red knots that had been reported there by Colin Reid, when I
photographed an unusual looking bird halfway along the main, "moat"
It was standing in the water [about 1 cm below its belly]. It was
about the same distance from the camera, and apparently slightly
smaller in size as a tattler. It had a distinctly long [50% longer
than the tattler] dark coloured bill - straight for the bulk of its
length, with a hint of a downwards bend at the end. Overall it had an
appearance that led me [as someone who has never identified one in the
field] to think "gee, that looks like a small dowitcher".
I ventured back to the wader roost this morning to see if I could
refind the bird. The conditions were not helpful. The high tide in my
window of opportunity was about 5.30 am, so I was there soon after
dawn. There had been significant rainfall, the sky was dark, there
were occasional showers and most of the birds were sleeping in [it is
not easy to ID birds when their heads tucked in]. They were also a bit
flighty, so I ended up creeping along the outside of the rockwall to
reach a good vantage point.
While I was sitting on the outside of the wall, where I was 80% out of
sight from the roost, I wound up with an audience of mixed waders.
Just as a herd of curious cattle will approach a pedestrian, a flock of
tattlers, turnstones, tericks and stints settled near my position.
They would approach to within 5-10 metres, then jump back a bit. Seen
up close, the tattlers had a different jizz to that apparent through
the nockers - they had a crake/rail like presence when running about.
I got some good close up shots of the tattlers, including a couple of
Tom Tarrant and Paul Walbridge arrived around 7.30 am and had about 15
minutes to survey the assembled birds before 95% of the birds just up
and departed [exit stage left]. Obviously, the birds have some
mechanism for picking the optimal time to leave the roost on the
It may well be that the bird in question is an "american" dowitcher as
Mike has hypothesised, or it may turn out to be an anomalous specimen
of another species. It would be good if someone else is able to find
and photograph/identify the individual, but the bird may prove to be
one of those enigmatic characters that ghosts away like a cheshire cat
- providing an interesting but unresolved puzzle.
On Sunday, November 7, 2004, at 04:21 PM, Mike Carter wrote:
Have just been sent a shot of a wader seen last weekend at Manly near
Brisbane by Laurie Knight. It looks to me like one of the American
Dowitchers in non-breeding plumage. Has anyone else seen it? As
and Long-billed are EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to separate, if anyone does
take lots of photos and a fully detailed description of plumage and
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