Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Spirit of King Canute...Red Knot

One of the few Latin bird names I remember is that of the Red Knot, Calidris canutus. It stems from my now distant childhood and the story of King Canute. As I recall, it was then suggested that his courtiers told him that he was so powerful that he could command the tide not to come in and he got very wet in the process--stupid git! Today, I see that the boot's on the other foot, so to speak. It's now suggested that he got wet to prove to his courtiers that he was not more powerful than God.
For many years I thought that this event was immortalised in the Latin canutus referring to the Knot. I fondly watched Knot feed on the tide line, and occasionally take to the water, reinforcing this thought. The truth is that the call of the Knot is written as "knut knut", which also happens to be the old Norse word for Canute. I think I prefer my version--another childhood story shattered.
Recently the spit at Lauderdale, in Ralph's Bay, has been graced with the presence of first one, and more recently two, Red Knot. Not that uncommon in Tasmania, and often seen in the company of Bar-tailed Godwit, numbers in recent years suggest a decline. Surprisingly tame, I took the opportunity to get numerous images, a few shown here, while looking for a mystery wader that was reported to be among the Red-necked Stint flock. One bird that I did see, as I parked my vehicle alongside of the nearby canal, was a sandpiper that I suspect was a Common Sandpiper--a decidedly uncommon sandpiper in Tasmania. I did subsequently see 'the' reported Common Sandpiper at the mouth of the Clarence Plains Rivulet, across the bay from Lauderdale.
While in the area, I visited the now full, Clear and Rushy Lagoons, observing a flock of 30+ Hardhead, another uncommon species in this state.


Snail said...

I think I like your connection between knots and Canute. The real reason seems so dull.

Marj K said...

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Tom Doniphon