Twitching the Jerseyville Yellowlegs

To: "L&L Knight" <>, "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Twitching the Jerseyville Yellowlegs
From: "John Harris" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 12:17:43 +1100
Hope you paid for your carbon credits before you left

Yours in all things "green"


John Harris
President, Victorian Association for Environmental Education (VAEE)
Environmental Education Officer
Donvale Christian College
155 Tindals Rd Donvale 3111
03 9844 2471
0409 090 955

>>> L&L Knight <> 20/01/2008 4:39 pm >>>
Andrew Walter and I left the southern suburbs of Brisbane at 4 am EST 

yesterday.  We had a reasonable run down the Pacific Hwy, slowing to  
the obligatory 10 clicks below the speed limit every time we went past 

one of the dozen or so fixed speed cameras.  There were ~ a dozen  
Needletails just to the north of Ballina.

After six hours of steady driving, we arrived at Boyter's Lane at  
11.02 am EDST, two minutes after our arranged rendezvous time with Ken 

Singleton.  We walked over to the tidal pond with Ken (who knows the  
Yellowlegs' and its habits well).  Ken found the bird straight away - 

it was the first bird he looked at.

The bird was in the middle of the "stump forest" - hard to get good  
slight lines and a bit far for the camera.  We trooped round the other 

side and had good but distant views of the bird, which by this time  
had taken up station beside its favourite stump.

Ken mentioned that the Yellowlegs was moulting.  It certainly spent a 

lot of time preening itself.  Interestingly, it frequently dipped its 

bill into the water - a bit like a person wetting their comb, or a cat 

licking its paw as it washed its face.

After we had all had good views and Ken assured me that no-one else  
was due to view the bird that day, I circled round and slowly passed  
through the mangroves to a point about 15 metres from the bird.  It  
was between a pair of Marshies, but I was able to locate it on the  
basis of its speckled plumage and preening behaviour.  Eventually the 

Marsh Sand blocking my view moved and I was able to get some  
reasonable shots.  I could probably have moved closer, but I figured I 

shouldn't overly hassle a bird that others will come to see.

In summary, the Yellowlegs was similar in size and height to the Marsh 

Sandpipers, but its plumage was darker grey and its bill was less  
needle-like.  It also had a darker breast, notched edges on its wing  
coverts and extensive barring on its tail and uppertail-coverts.   
Because it was standing in water, its yellow legs were less notable  
than might be expected.

We had lunch and a cup of tea with Ken, then drove home, following the 

cricket on the radio.  We stopped for fuel at the first cheap station 

[Shell] about 50 km north of Coffs Harbour [7 cents cheaper per litre 

than the stations to the south].  I dropped Andrew off at 7 pm EST,  
shortly after the end of the cricket.

In all, our birding day involved 1000 km of driving [~ 80 litres of  
fuel] and a couple of hours of wader watching.  Although the drive  
along the Pacific Hwy was less attractive than the corresponding drive 

to Burren Junction, I found the Yellowlegs was a more enjoyable twitch 

than the Grey-headed Lapwing.  Being able to view the bird and discuss 

its recent history with Ken, and to watch it associating with other  
birds was definitely better than looking at a lone bird in a paddock  
through a car window.

Although Ken tells me that ~150 people so far have been to Jerseyville 

to view the Yellowlegs, there are few pictures of the bird in  
circulation.  I've submitted a couple of pictures to the Australian  
Bird Image Database and will forward some to Ken to include with his  
BARC submission.

If you haven't seen the Yellowlegs yet and would like to twitch it, I 

think there is a fair chance that the bird will hang around for  
another month [particularly since it is mounting and Ken notes that it 

is well fed].  The important thing to remember is that the bird will  
be scarce if there is extended heavy rain, so check the weather  
reports and call Ken (02) 6566 7846 before setting off.

Once again, thanks to Ken for both finding and monitoring the  
Yellowlegs, and for being a helpful guide for visiting twitchers.

Regards, Laurie.

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