Today's SIPO sighting (Moreton Bay)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Today's SIPO sighting (Moreton Bay)
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Sat, 21 May 2011 17:01:01 +1000
Following on from the sightings of the SIPO at Vic Point over the last couple of weeks, I turned up on the esplanade a couple of hours before full tide, equipped with binoculars, camera and a good book. Matt Gilfidder turned up with a scope after a dozen pages.

The oystercatchers feed on the flats and progressively move towards the shore of the rising tide. The SIPO was initially identifiable at a distance of 50+ metres - it was noticeably smaller and had a longer bill than the other oycs. The flock flew en masse to their mid tide roost as Colin Reid and Rob Dougherty arrived. The stony patch is a bit higher than the surrounding flats and the oycs sit within 10-20 metres of the footpath for an hour or two before flying off to their high tide roosts (in the direction of the jetty / boat ramp today). A passing shower pushed most of the twitchers off the roost, clearing space for Andrew Stafford who arrived shortly after.

Seen at close quarters, the SIPO's wing feathers were highly worn, to the point that the right wingbar was visible when the wing was folded. The size difference with the neighbouring Oycs was similar to the difference between Crested and Lesser Crested Terns and the difference in bill shape was similar to difference between Marsh Sandpipers and Common Greenshanks. The "lower legs" looked spindly in comparison to the OZPOs and at times the eye ring appeared less prominent. The SIPO did a fair bit of grooming, and showed off its wingbar and underwing. Andrew noted that its stance was more horizontal than that of the OZPOs.

Interestingly, there were at least three yellow flagged (Northern NSW) OZPOs in the flock (I had 3 in one photo). One of them (N8) had extremely pale plumage, with a number of a grey-white wing coverts.

As always, it was nice to have a reliable rarity (thanks to the birders who found and reported it) and to catch up with fellow birders.

Regards, Laurie.

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