Saturday, 27 September 2014

Life's a beach...

After an aborted attempt due to the strong winds and blowing sand of a couple of days ago, we headed back to Stone Harbor for a look at some shorebirds (waders to you and me) with piping plover on the top of the hit list.

We headed off towards the mouth of the river along a spit of sand that is used by waders and skimmers to breed on the summer. Apart from a few roosting gulls (LBB gull added) the beach was very quiet. A little further along it became apparent as to why it was dead. A massive female peregrine sitting on the fenceline with a male sat in the dunes close by! We carried up to the end of the dunes but apart from a group of oystercatcher and 40 roosting caspian terns it was quiet.

As we walked back up the beach I picked up 4 birds roosting high up on the beach. They were a bit too distant to be sure but I hoped the were the piping plovers. Sure enough, as we got closer, they were the plovers we had hoped for. Fantastic views as the roosted.
Futher up the beach there was a big flock of waders roosting on the breakwater but as we approached, the male peregrine appeared, hammered the flock and sent them up the beach and out of sight before I got a look at them.

As we arrived at the breakwater there were still two semipalmated sandpipers showing really well but as I took some photos,  birds started to return. First a big group of sanderling (500) then smaller numbers of western (100) & semipalmated sandpipers (50) and semipalmated plovers (30). The birds were not bothered at all by our presence and ran right past us to preen and roost at the top of the beach. The birds were so close we managed to record two colour ringed western sands and sanderling! Should be interesting to see where they came from.

After about 20mins, the male peg returned and that was the end of our shorebird session!

Pic 1 Stone Harbor beach
Pic 2-3 peregrines
Pic 4 ring billed gull
Pic 5-6 piping plover
Pic 7 monarch butterfly resting on the beach
Pic 8-9 semipalmated sandpiper
Pic 10-11 western sandpiper
Pic 12-14 semipalmated plover
Pic 15 roosting semipalmated and western plovers
Pic 16 sanderling

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