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    • lab1
Jan 24: The not-so-common Common Sandpiper
 

I had a brief trip to Kedron again this morning, but was again limited by needing to be home at 0630, which gave me little more than an hour on site. The year tick drought was over just before dawn when a majestic adult White-bellied Sea-eagle smashed into a flying-fox that was crossing the wetland minding its own business. The flying-fox was desperately trying to outmaneuver the eagle at all costs, and after about three lunges from the eagle, it got away uneaten. As birding light dawned, I scanned around from the E end of the main pool, hoping for Pectoral Sandpiper, but I couldn’t find it among the Sharpies that were visible – the problem being that there was plenty of tussocks and hidden areas among the pools where the Sharpies could evade my gaze. Typically, after the unseemly rush of the other night, an Australian Spotted Crake nonchalantly paraded around right out in the open, trying to distract me from my Pec Sand search. It would come to nought anyway, and as the minutes ticked by, I needed to get to the creek and look for the Common Sandpiper.

Chris Attewell had very kindly given me the precise location of his sighting yesterday, and I searched the area between the cycleway bridge and the Southern Cross Way bridge. But despite the time of low tide approaching there was not much mud exposed, and I walked up and down the creek for about 50 minutes without so much a sniff of a sandpiper. I had a Yellow-rumped Thornbill right around the Southern Cross Way bridge, and although it’s a good bird for this site, and a year tick, it was scant consolation for missing the Common Sandpiper. Clearly I would have to make a third visit.

The lesson from all of this is that I need to slow down – trying to nail a couple of target species with an hour in the field is just not sensible. With a long weekend coming up I will plan to put in some longer, more relaxed visits where I can really search out what I’m looking for. The only problem with respect to the Common Sandpiper is that there isn’t really a decent low tide in the daytime until about 29th Jan now.

I’m reasonably happy with progress overall, but it is definitely irritating struggling with a few species that require repeated visits back to the same site. I’m gradually closing the gap on all species that have been seen in Brisbane – there are currently 33 species that have been seen in Brisbane this year by others that I have not seen. Of these, I’m not too concerned about any. That will undoubtedly change!

I’ve decided to cancel my trip to Moreton Island this weekend. The winds just don’t look strong enough for land-based seawatching. The pelagic going off Southport will probably turn up something amazing, but I feel determined to use all possible birding time within Brisbane LGA where possible. No doubt I’ll end up spending 17 hours looking unsuccessfully for Common Sandpiper! As soon as there is a stronger weather system I’ll head out seawatching, and I’ll eventually get to Moreton probably in Febuary and April at least. The hope is to do a minimum of 4 trips out there this year.

With two year ticks today (White-bellied Sea-eagle and Yellow-rumped Thornbill), my year list at the end of the day rose to 203 species. I spent 1 hour 53 minutes birding, walked 4.283 km and drove 32.5 km.

Progress of my own year list (green) against all bird species seen in Brisbane collectively by all eBirders. Some additional species might have been seen by people who don’t use eBird, but there’s no easy way to find that out.