Tuesday, February 27, 2007
A Walk in the Rain.
The day started with light drizzle and heavy overcast and there was little prospect of any change, so I had given away any thought of going out birding. The phone rang. A voice from the past! Mike Newman was telling me of a possible Little Stint at Lauderdale, but as he was on his way to work, he couldn't stay. I had in fact had an e-mail from Priscilla Park in which she mentioned that "Bianca and Mat" (2 birders that I don't personally know) had seen a possible Little Stint there too. I haven't seen Mike for sometime--he now lives in NSW--but in the 70's and 80's, we spent a great deal of time birding together, not to mention cannon netting, in the halcyon days of the Tasmanian Shorebird Study Group, (now defunct). I somehow felt an obligation to go in search of this bird. In about 15 minutes I was at Lauderdale, the tide was going out fast, and the flock that Mike had described as being alongside the spit, was now spread out across a kilometre or so of mud. Despite the heavy overcast and drizzle, I set off across the mud, with, I must say, little expectation of even finding this bird. After about 10 minutes I actually found it, well at least what I presume was the bird in question. I managed a few shots from a considerable distance away (shown at top) and while intent on getting closer, I heard the unmistakable sound of an approaching helicopter. This was no run of the mill helicopter, this was a Bell 212 twin engined job, used during the Summer for firefighting. With its "thump thump" sound, reminiscient of the Iroquois of Vietnam fame, and flying at around 500 feet to remain visual under the overcast, it scattered the flocks of birds in all directions! The upshot was that I couldn't find the bird again, and with increasing drizzle, gave the chase away. Let me add that I'm not being critical of the helicopter operations. They have a job to do, and I suspect they were off to the SW National Park to look at the fires that have been burning there for 10 days or more. Back to the bird. Visually, in the murky conditions, I didn't come to any decision as to its ID, but after looking at the images, my belief is that it's a Red-necked Stint in breeding plumage. Although some others were showing signs of breeding plumage, this bird was much further advanced. Well I've published an image here so you can all have your two bobs worth. What's your verdict?