Monday, 10 July 2017

Little Stint at Stockyard Point

About two weeks ago, I went to Stockyard Point to find "Syd" the SIPO (South Island Pied Oystercatcher), a mega rare bird from New Zealand that had somehow ended up in Australia. I returned home with some photos and a great sense of satisfaction. But the very next day, another rare bird was reported from the exact same location. This time it was a Little Stint. Not as rare and mega as the SIPO, but still quite a good bird and one that I have dipped on previously. I was extremely gripped, and checked through all of my previous day's photos to see if I had inadvertently photographed the Little Stint, but of course, I hadn't!

15 days after the initial report, I finally managed to make my way to Stockyard Point and look for the Little Stint. I was unable to go earlier due to work commitments, and after work finished I went on an awesome and much anticipated family holiday. Luckily, the bird had been sighted pretty much every day since the initial report.

I arrived at the Jam Jerrup car park around 11:15 and started the long walk to Stockyard Point. I was hoping that there might be a few other birders around, because I wasn't overly keen on trying to pick out a Little Stint on my own. I have red-green colourblindness, and have particular difficulty with reds. And this bird is best found by looking for exactly those colours that my eyes have trouble seeing. But the car park was empty, and I had the place all to myself.

The walk to the point is not that far, really, but it can be a tad tricky. Eventually I reached the point and sat for a rest and a drink of water, and began waiting for the waders to come in and roost at high tide. After about an hour or so, in they came in their 100s. Then I realised just how tricky this was going to be. I had to try and pick a single bird from a much larger group of extremely similar looking small birds, where the only noticeable difference is colour, and I'm colourblind. And I'd have to get close enough to do this without flushing them. Dang!

The birds landed in two groups. One at the point, and one further around closer to a bay with mangroves. I went for the group closer to the mangroves, and after a few quick scans from distance, found nothing. I started to creep in closer, and have another look. And then, pretty much right in front of me, I found it. And I found it because it was a different colour. Yes, colourblind me found a bird using colour. I took a ton of photos, but the birds suddenly flushed. I hadn't even moved, but I guess that's waders for you. They all moved to the point where I was able to find the Little Stint again, but it was mixed in with a bunch of Red-necked Stints and not showing very well. Of course there was plenty of other waders to photograph as well!

I didn't stay long after finding the Little Stint, and had to wade through some shallow water to get back to the car park. I also managed to scratch my arm, and it bled quite a bit. I arrived back at the car, cold, wet, bleeding, and ecstatic. All worth it to see such a beautiful bird. The last one that was reported in Victoria was only seen over two days, and certainly not by me - I was there on the third day with about 20 other disappointed birders. This bird seems to be sticking around though, and has been seen regularly for a few weeks now. Lifer #394, Victorian bird #314, and bird species photograph #350. Woo-hoo!!

Little Stint

Little Stint

Double-banded Plover

Double-banded Plover

Red Knot (large bird)

Red Knot

Red Knot

Red-capped Plover

Australian Pied Oystercatcher

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