This week to my great delight and relief, my wader friends, the amazing Bar-tailed Godwit, have returned from Alaska again, and this time with a few more in the family making 13 in all. I found them on the Georges River mudflats on a beach where they usually are not found.
They flew off and I followed them to their usual beach, as the tide was quite low and there was plenty of area for them to forage on. It was late afternoon so there was significant yellowing due to pre-sunset light. They all looked healthy and good for their 16,000 km direct flight across the Pacific Ocean over their 8 day non stop flight. This Silver Gull liked getting in the photo also.
The mudflats are great for tiny mud crabs, and as the sand is wet and soft they can press their designer built beak well down to pull them out, sometimes with their entire head underwater.
The Bar-tails have a slightly upturned beak compared with the very straight beak of the Black-tailed Godwit, which we seldom see in these parts. The female is larger than the male, and they have all lost their breeding plumage, and ready for Summer in Australia. I could not detect any juveniles from their recent clutches, so they may stay till next season and make their first journey next year. Some appear to be 2nd year that may have made their first or second.
I am looking forward to getting better pics when the tide and sun are coordinated better. The above pic is probably the better of the bunch. Something spooked the flock and they took off quickly to another beach across the bay. They will be back. I was starting to get very concerned when it reached the 1st of October, as these little guys are usually here by then. I am so happy to see them back again on their same beach.
Often people swim and fish and look for bait on the mudflats while this little tight knitted flock wonder about not far from the them. Interesting that most people using this beach no nothing about these birds or their amazing endurance journey they make twice a year some 32,000km. They just look like sea birds among the sea gulls and offer no great interest, as from a distance they are small and the beauty of their wing patterns are hidden beneath their wings, only revealed in flight. My friends and family notice my excitement every time I see them, and become suddenly amazed when they are told about my little wader friends. They attract little notice, and yet are one of the world’s most remarkable birds. There is a life lesson in this for me that it is not the loud, noisy and showy people that necessarily that have much to contribute, but often the quiet, humble and unassuming.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – James 4:6
Have a wonderful week!
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