I have enjoyed following Tiny Lessons blog from Florida USA, and her delightful story telling style which brings a light and sometimes humorous approach as she personifies the birds in the Salt Marsh Reserve near her home. This has been my inspiration for the style of presentation of this my extraordinary Special Christmas Edition blog which will be the last one for this year. Here I tell the story of the Georges River Mangrove Mudflats from the Tarren Point Shorebird Reserve, where my wife and I stood for some time last Saturday in 32C heat to observe with interest the interaction of the mudflat waders. Georges River flows into Botany Bay, where Towra Point Wetlands Reserve (one of Australia’s most significant shorebird reserves) is situated. It is from this reserve that shorebirds (waders) fly each day to graze for crustaceans on the adjacent river mangrove mudflats and beaches across the river at low tide, during the Summer months, near our busy city.
In flew Eastern Curlew, the big bully of the mudflats, often chasing the smaller Bar-tailed Godwits away from choice feeding areas.
As you can see from the photographic evidence, it was the bar-tailed Godwit that humbly left with a smile on it’s face, with its fresh catch in beak, leaving the greedy Curlew to find nothing but disappointment. Which is the fruit of greed and bullying. Click on photos to enlarge.
Soon after this, Eastern Curlew sighted me and flew off making its usual alarm call.
In flew more Bar-tailed Godwits as they spread out over the mudflats sharing it with everyone else who was there. It was the first time here that we had seen such a variety of inhabitants all sharing the mudflats together.
As we checked out the mudflat our first resident was this unusual gull, which we first thought from the distance was Pacific Gull which are not commonly found this far north. Later at home I discovered it to be Kelp Gull, which explains why I had seen immature Kelp Gulls earlier this year resting on nearby beaches. This guy was just looking out to sea with no real interest in what was transpiring behind it.
Pied Oystercatcher was walking about looking for easy food. It showed some interest in us watching it scavenge.
Masked Lapwing pair
The same pair of Masked Lapwing I saw here last time I visited the mudflat, were in exactly the same position as before, resting together.
A passing Silver Gull landed to drink from the storm water flowing onto the mudflat from the nearby houses.
By now the Bar-tailed Godwit family were hard at it, without the intrusion of nasty Eastern Curlew. They were not interested at all in what was about to transpire.
Then it happened! It was unexpected, a complete stranger, never before seen on THIS Mangrove Mudflat appeared out of nowhere, trotting along the waters edge, looking so strong and handsome, finally stopping in plain view of all the local residents. He was alone, and made no sound. No one had ever seen anyone move in the way this stranger moved, his appearance had made an impact on those who watched. He was the Son of Mangrove Heron.
To our surprise the previously uninterested Kelp Gull suddenly turned to inspect this surprise visitor, whom no one was expecting. The following events held us mesmerized, as this mini soap opera played out before our eyes, we were witnessing something far more deeper and meaningful, possibly even prophetic.
At the same time Mr Masked Lapwing turned, moved a little closer and stood watching from a distance, wondering who this stranger was, and why is he here? Silver Gull likewise watched and pondered.
Pied Oystercatcher began moving closer for a better view alongside Masked Lapwing, something that does not often occur.
Just then Pelican flew over to investigate this strange creature on its mudflat, and more importantly to check out if it had caught anything it could possibly steal from Heron. Mangrove Heron looked up with interest as the large bird flew over and then flew off.
At the same time Australian Raven flew in, with expectancy that something significant was taking place, since so much attention was being focused on this one unusual visitor, on this ‘Son of Mangrove Heron’. Maybe there was something in it for him. Then it gradually unfolded…
Son of Mangrove Heron moved to a position in clear sight of all the watching eyes, and started moving into his peculiar stance…
Everyone watched with great interest, wondering what he would do next, as he began crouching into a very strange shape and poised completely still looking into the waters edge. Silver Gull got excited, it had cottoned on to what Heron was up to and prepared to take flight.
Mangrove Heron had gathered the attention of most of the birds present…
This whole event was completely uninteresting to the Godwits, some were completely distracted preening themselves, others buried their heads in the sand and did not want to know, others just carried on with their pervading predisposition with food acquisition too busy with their own affairs to show any interest at all.
Then it happened! In one sudden lightning-like movement the Heron scooped up a small fish into its beak and everyone looked on in surprise at this amazing fisherman stranger, this Son of Mangrove Heron.
Silver Gull flew in to inspect the catch and validate it, and if at all possible, steal it, but the intrepid Heron walked off against the prevailing wind, disheveled yet victorious, as if one who had fought a great battle and had won a great prize, which those looking on could only dream of having. All looked on with amazement as this Son of Mangrove Heron walked off the stage in the same direction that he came from, without word, comment or complaint.