With the Spring return of our migratory waders or shorebirds, including migratory passerines, interest in birding heightens, as our ‘box of chocolates’ (quoting Forest Gump), increases in variety. Boat Harbour Aquatic Reserve at the south east end of the Botany Bay National Park has a tidal reef where various kinds of waders and shorebirds can be found. The day I visited to do this post, the seas were quite wild and low tide looked a lot like high tide.
As all serious birders know timing is essential when pursuing waders( and you can find out more from my helpful Birding InfoTips page). Low tide is best to find waders foraging either on rock platforms or mud flats of tidal estuaries and river banks.
The first bird I often see when visiting this place is not a shorebird but this little Australasian Pipit, seen running about on the sandstone rock platform well away from the ocean. They are found throughout Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Africa and Asia. They are well camouflaged and often are not detected till they move, as part of their protection is to remain perfectly still and then run in short bursts, then stopping.
The first shorebirds birds spotted were this family group of Sooty Oystercaters resting at low tide. Occasionally the adventurous one of the party would have to escape an impending wave as it went out on the edge to look for food. Just when I thought I would see nothing else due to the rough seas, I asked God to reveal what I had missed seeing. Within minutes…
My Bird of the Week – The Ruddy Turnstone
The Ruddy Turnstone family appeared well camouflaged in their mottled earthy colours, as they searched the reef. There appeared to be an adult pair and two juveniles. They were quite shy, the youngsters were a little more trusting. These birds are found around the sea coast of Australia, its islands, including Tasmania. They are highly migratory and breed in the Arctic regions during the summer months in North America and Eurasia. They have returned to enjoy our summer, with they youngsters. They get their name ‘ruddy’ because their breeding plumage turns the males a bright chestnut colour and ‘turnstone’ because they use their beaks to prod, probe, turn up stones, seaweed and other objects in search of food such as small crustaceans. You will notice only a tiny patch ot two of chestnut remains on the male as it has lost its breeding plumage.
As I searched the platform many Blue Bottles were seen to have washed up during the last tide due to the rough seas. The above one was massive in size, and would have packed a wallop of a sting.
The rough seas did not deter this Darter as it landed headlong into the surf. Note the last photo above, where its long neck stands clear of the water.
This Australian Raven continued eating some indescribable morsel as I walked past, it was not going to share it with me or the other ravens who came hovering about.
Having exhausted my findings here, I made my way to other wader locations of river mud flats, while it was still low tide. I saw this little group of Pied Cormorants resting as I walked to Bonna Bay Reserve where I usually find my lone Eastern Curlew and sure enough…
Yes, the Eastern Curlew was on cue, but some distance down the beach. Of course it did not stop me getting these pictures. As I have shared before of all the waders these are the most human shy, and will not tolerate any advance. They will retreat generally at first sight of human interest. The long beak enables the deepest penetration of wet sand for crustaceans. It is interesting how God has given each wader bird specie a different shaped and length beak so they actually sift different depths and areas for food. This allows them to graze together harmoniously, and everyone gets a feed.
Further around I found my favorite wader the Bar-tailed Godwit with a shorter beak slightly upturned. He was a lone wader also, which is unusual for this bird which usually is in small flocks.
From the above video clip you can see the pile driving like action of the bird as it moves its beak deep below the sand. It often places its whole head under water. They are very apt at retrieving crustaceans from below the mud flats in large numbers.
Nearby a pair of Australian Pied Oystercatcher were catching the last of the tide also. These birds, similar to the Sooties are often found in mating pairs together for life.
A bright and beautiful finding in the bush as I was birding was this unusually large cluster of Flannel Flowers. These unique spring flowers are not usually seen like this, so I had to include it in my post.
I guess we can not leave out the Great Cormorant, which is commonly seen throughout the world, as well as throughout Australia.
I close with this photo of a family of tortoise sunning themselves over the Hacking River in the Royal National Park. I have often seen them sunning during my visits. The other adult is standing guard nearby. The beautiful aspect here is family sharing enjoyable and memorable experiences together. It is these precious times that we remember and give us strength and balance in life. This highlights the need to spend time with our children and grandchildren whenever we can, even if it is just sitting together in the sun.
“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” – Psalm 115:14
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3
Have a wonderful week and get out-and-about if you can to see our returning waders, and take your kiddies and grandkiddies with you.
Remember my book makes a wonderful inexpensive Christmas gift to read and explain to your children and grandchildren. I hear and read appreciative testimonies to it weekly, as it not only beautifully showcases our birds but teaches valuable life skills through the birds. It is ideal for parents to read to their children, and for children from 8 to 12 years to read for themselves. If you purchase it here online now it will arrive before Christmas. Check out my Birdbook page to find out more.