Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Tide's up!

The Safari hi-tailed it down to the southern estuary after work yesterday in the hope of spotting the two Scaup that had been seen earlier in the day. We were far too late, the tide had dropped a long way and the light was atrcoious glaring off the wet sand/mud. The birds had probaly drifted down the river on the ebbing tide, so that was a dip.
Today we offered photographer BD a lift down the other estuary where a nice selection of scarcer waders have been seen over the last few days. Sadly he was down with lurgy and unable to join us. 
A wander along the saltmarsh path gave us a the last of the Sea Asters, a couple of weeks ago the marsh would have had a beautiful violet flush from the myriad of flowers.
We weren't the om;y birder at the appointed place and MF was happy to tell us how he'd seen the quarry birds yesterday. Not long later the estuary expert LGB joined us - must have been something good out there then!
The tide hadn't started to rise yet and there was acres of mud to scan and lots of hidden creeks for any number of birdies to hide in - but with the tide on the rise the acres of mud would soon disappear and the creeks would fill flushing out their feathered treasures.
Looking the other way was somewhat trickier!
A flock of about 20 Black Tailed Godwits were working the top of the mud but there was little else on view other than scattered Curlews. Then a small flock of Dunlin flew past us and whirled round - the call went up Curlew Sandpiper...but did we see it? We thought so at the time but looking back in our mind's eye we'd have liked a much more obvious view of the white rump to be certain so we've not included it on our year list challenge...have to go back! They flock picked up some others from somewhere and about two dozen flew off downstream over our heads.
The water's continued to rise and Redshanks became more agitated and then we heard a Greenshank (161) calling, it continued to call continuously most of the time we were there. 
We scanned and scanned but there was no further sign of the Dunlin flock. Eventually the waters rose to start filling the gully in front of us first flushing off the Heron, then the Black Tailed Godwit and finally the Little Egret which was shoved off it's feeding area by a particularly fierce tidal bore.
Within minutes of these pics being taken the gully was full and the island of mud in front of us gone, time to retrace our steps a few yards to have a look at the last bit of mud on our side if the river, just two Dunlins and a few Redshanks - no sign of the Little Stint.
We ended with a ten minute scan of the disappearing mud on the far side of the river but couldn't find anything other than the usual common species.
OK so one out of three (four if you count yesterday's dipped Scaup) isn't a great result and hasn't done us any favours in our year list but it was a lovely couple of hours on the river. Peaceful, no sounds apart from the piping calls of the waders and the lapping of the waters becoming a noisy race warm sun no wind to speak of and good company - do you really need anything more in life? well maybe a pint or two of good beer eh.
Where to next? Hmm not sure about tomorrow, possibly some early morning cetacean watching, always provided we can find one.
In the meantime let us know what was hiding itself very effectively in your outback.

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