Yesterday, started cloudy but as the day progressed became ideal for my wife and I to drive out to Long Reef Aquatic Reserve, Collaroy, North east of Sydney. I had planned to catch the low-tide so we could walk the reef and look for waders, as I had seen many sightings listed by other birders. Many families were enjoying the Australia Day holiday out in the sunshine and the cool breeze of the north-easter. Click on photos to enlarge them.
The Reef goes for about a kilometer around the point, and at low tide looks enormous. It shoes the red larva flow rock from an extinct volcano. Some of the area is covered in various sea vegetation and lichens. As stepped onto the beach a man flew over my head on a para-shoot, landing on the beach. My first bird seen on the reef was this lone Masked Lapwing which use to be called a Spur-winged Plover. It is a shorebird, but in recent years has become more of a field bird.
The rough seas from the previous days of wild weather had deposited Blue Bottles and sea weed on the beautiful golden sand.
To our great delight we received our first gift flying over head out to the ocean a juvenile Osprey went. We knew from this that our loving Father had good things for us on the reef.
Our next delight was to watch this Crested Tern fish. I did well to catch it diving, as they dive at great speed, though I think that he was not successful on this occasion.
How beautiful is this lone White-faced Heron on the far edge of the reef near the surf!
As we walked around to the larger part of the reef, we found many Crested Tern and Silver Gull resting together on the edge of the reef, with some juveniles of both specie present.
Though you might not think this photo much, I love the expression on this Little Pied Cormorant’s face, it is so cute!
It is often difficult to get photos of the Little Black Cormorant, as the black blends with the rock background, and in the sunlight tends to look out of focus, but I do love the first shot above.
All three Cormorants were well represented on the reef, and sharing company together, though the Little Black guys are more shy and tended to stay together away from the larger Great and Pied specie.
Of course it wouldn’t be right without the presence of Mr Pelican, but only one lone bird represented their specie on the reef. It seemed to be on display doing a photo shoot, by the way it moved on center stage on the reef, but later decide to glide off over the waves.
My wife sighted this beautiful rock pool creature which looked quite brilliant in the sunshine, along with the other interesting inhabitants there. It is possibly a sea anemone.
We were about to leave thinking there was not that much more to be seen here on this part of the reef when my wife sighted in the distance some very tiny birds moving right next to the wild surf breaking on the reef edge. If it were not for their lighter colouring one would have never seen them. Red-necked Stints in non-breeding plumage,such tiny little birds of about 15cm in length. It amazes me to think they have migrated. It was hard at times to determine if they were all stints, sandlings or sandpipers, as they look so alike and are so small from a distance, and they fly so fast! This was our next gift with more to come!
I love the way these birds move about near the raging surf, as they did on Culburra Beach when I visited Lake Wollumboola in a recent blog. After watching these birds for some time we walked over the pools to the other side of the reef to receive our next gift!
The endangered Sooty Oystercatcher – My Bird of the Week. I was only thinking a day before that it had been some time since I had seen these birds, and there they were a pair. These birds are such faithful partners, I usually always find them in breeding pairs, both the Pied and Sooty species. The Sooty is a fairly shy bird, and will keep well away from humans. It is often found resting with its Pied cousin, but the Pied will sometimes pick on it. The Sooty is found all around coastal Australia, Tasmania and the surrounding islands. It gets its name because it feeds mainly from rock platforms at low-tide from shell fish, such as Oysters and other crustaceans. Like the Pied it has a way of prying open the shells to get to the sweet meat inside.
As we watched the Sootys, we saw a larger golden bird with longer legs than the stints, which glowed in the afternoon sun, the beautiful Pacific Golden Plover, walking the reef. One bird looked to be just completing its morph from breeding plumage.
Nearby to these Plovers and keeping peaceful company with them was a Ruddy Turnstone. THis bird gets its name from turning stones over by the shore to find its food beneath.
Just as our afternoon was greeted by a raptor ‘gift’ so it was closed by one, this Nankeen Kestrel hovered above me for a few seconds as we walked back to our car. What a wonderful way to spend Australia Day, out in the great outdoors breathing in the salt air and sea spray, We were so glad we came. Here are some wise words that came to mind as I walked.
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