Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Siberia Bound.....Red-necked Stint

Now looking decidedly portly, and having shed their drab greys, most of the local Red-necked Stint are preparing for their annual, epic journey. These small waders will shortly be winging their way back to their breeding grounds in north-east Siberia, several thousand kilometres away, stopping occasionally to top up their fat reserves. Weighing less than 30 grams when they arrived in our spring, by now most will have put on as much as 15 grams for this journey. Only the juvenile birds, born last northern summer, will overwinter here in Tasmania, and in other parts of Australia.
Most of the stint that I observed a few days ago, both at Lauderdale, where I took the accompanying images, and along the South Arm Neck, were showing variable degrees of breeding plumage, but none had yet attained their full rich colouring.
The flock at Lauderdale numbered around 150 stint, together with a dozen or more Double-banded Plover, 30 plus Red-capped Plover and a solitary Red Knot. The stint numbers being the highest I've noted at this venue this summer. South Arm Neck had many more, around 400, but I also noted a distant flock in flight, out of West Bay, that had perhaps as many again.
Ralph's Bay at Lauderdale also turned on another of those feeding frenzies common at this time of year. Large numbers of Silver Gulls, a few Crested Terns and over 40 Black-fronted Cormorants were chasing some unseen prey, probably small fish, all over the bay, even to the shallows alongside the road. The sheer exuberance and persistence of the birds during these events, makes exciting viewing.


mick said...

The Stint up here seem to be at about the same stage in putting on their breeding plumage. I wonder if they start migrating without full breeding plumage? The in-fight photo is especially good with the whole flock in focus!

BirdingTas said...

Hi Mick,
Yes, I think they must complete it en route or even after arrival at the breeding grounds. But it is amazing how quickly they've reached the present stage. I looked up shots I had taken in early March and there's only a few obviously new feathers on their backs. I'll have to keep an eye on them in the next few weeks.
As far as the flight shot goes, I think it owes more to modern digital cameras, rather than any skill on my part. Practice helps too! Thanks for your comments.