Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Kellys swamp on Guy Fawkes Day

It was quite late in the day when I realised that the day was - at least in the UK - Guy Fawkes Day.  When growing up there this was possibly the third most important day of the year after Christmas and one's birthday.  This was due to letting off fireworks at a bonfire, celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot.

There were a few metaphorical fireworks at Kelly's Swamp, in the Jerrabombera Wetlands on the day in 2013.  My reason for attending the swamp was to try to see at least one of the two unusual sandpipers recently see in the Swamp.  I checked the main area in which they had been seen with no luck.  Then another birder arrived, who had been told one was slightly further to the North.  After some searching with binoculars a sandpiper was located foraging around (frequently behind) a waterside log.
I got my telescope briefly on the bird and considered it to be the Pectoral Sandpiper, rather than the Curlew Sandpiper.  However it was quite hazy looking across the water, and the bird was positioning itself behind foliage for most of the time, so I decided to put my camera on my tripod to get an image for later study.  Of course, by the time I had changed instruments the bird had removed itself.  The haze was also contraindicating photography as exemplified by this impression of a Black-winged Stilt (in itself an unusual bird).
As the bird did not reappear in a reasonable time frame I was about to leave when a shadow went over me.  Looking up there were two Wedge-tailed eagles, one Little Eagle and a Whistling Kite soaring above me.  They were getting a warm reception from the Masked Lapwings of the area.

I headed for one of the hides to see what could be seen.  The most interesting birds were Red-kneed Dotterels and since they were about 1/10th the distance away were able to be photographed.   The first image shows a Dusky Moorhen as a size comparison.
Most of the time these two birds were associating closely together, but they didn't do anything particularly indicating breeding activity.

 On the other hand these Black Swan cygnets are definitely a Nest with Young (NY) record.
 The Teal mainly dozed on the conveniently placed logs.
I have thought quite a bit since about the identity of the sandpiper, with some confusion added by another birder posting a sighting of the Curlew Sandpiper.  My conclusion is that I didn't get a good enough look to be sure so will list neither.  Possibly that turns the sighting from a cracker to a damp squib!

Never let it be said that I cannot make a decision.  Having initially decided that I couldn't make a call (1 decision) I have now looked at the photo of the Curlew Sandpiper reported later in the day.  I am pretty confident that the bird I saw was a good bit browner (which could just be lighting) but also a longer necked bird.  Thus I will make another decision that it was a Pectoral Sandpiper.  So that is 2 decisions, and the day is still young.

No comments: