Congo (NSW) - shorebirds, needletails

Subject: Congo (NSW) - shorebirds, needletails
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 10:32:41 +1100

I spent Saturday at Congo on the NSW South Coast, between Moruya and Tuross Head, which is under 2 hours drive from Canberra. The signs of a savage recent storm were evident since my last visit by the enormous amounts of washed up seaweed and the missing section of beach near the point, which was now exposed rock.

Despite being worried about the less exposed sand I was surprised to find an amazing array of shorebirds foraging among the seaweed and rocks, most were difficult to see until flushed.
Below is a list of the day's bonanza of shorebirds:

- Sanderling 6-8 (difficult to count, possibly 2 separate groups)
- Red-necked Stint 5 (obvious size and colour difference when feeding with Sanderling)
- Pacific Golden Plover 2 (non-breeding plumage, feeding in seaweed on shore)
- Grey Plover 1 ('lifer', among seaweed, identified by size, short stout bill and when flying away obvious white rump and strong white wingbar, as opposed to the PGPlovers nearby)
- Bar-tailed Godwit 11
- Ruddy Turnstone 2 (non-breeding plumage, feeding among thick seaweed on shore)
- Red-capped Plover 18+ (including 8+ juveniles, the 2 fledglings I saw 2 weeks previous had now lost all their downy feathers)
- Red Knot 4 (i am 90% sure of my id here, grey upper, duller below, as they were resting late in the afternoon (I didnt see them arrive) alongside the Godwits which were almost twice as big, they didnt seem to have the long bills of Grey-tailed Tattlers the other possibility)
- Pied Oystercatcher 2 (resident pair)
- Sooty Oystercatcher 2 (resident pair)

What is amazing about this place is the proximity of the shorebirds. Where we lie on the sand we are only some 10 metres from feeding Sanderling and Stint and over-protective Red-capped Plover parents who keep chasing away any Stint or Sanderling which comes to close to their young. And the swiming spot in the sea is just metres from resting Godwits and Oystercatchers, giving great views.

Other birds included a Jacky Winter along Congo Rd and a pair of White-throated Needletails which spent the greater part of the afternoon soaring above the point. There was also a Blue-tongued Skink in the campsite.


Marnix Zwankhuizen

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