Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fellowship Reflections (week 8)

And they're off...

I spent the past weekend up at Miranda, doing some mist-netting. We were targeting Godwits in particular, trying to get plumage samples, but had a good catch of Red Knots, so we took advantage of that as well. The evening’s catching was very successful, with 70 birds flying into the mist nets we had set up at two locations in the stilt ponds. I worked with a great team of keen birders, extracting the birds from the nets and processing them - carrying out measurements and putting on metal bands and alpha flags.

Miranda is a great spot, if you've never been there it is well worth it. This time of year there are thousands of birds including about 2,000 wrybills. They are such endearing birds, with spectacular aerial displays, see below.

Over the weekend I was based at the Miranda Shorebird Centre, a great little place with education programs and resources about the area. While staying at Miranda I was able to witness four Godwit departures. These were amazing to witness as the birds called to each other, flew up and formed the characteristic V-shaped flying pattern and headed north up the bay. To see them fading as small dots, then disappearing from the view through my scope was awe-inspiring. These tiny things won’t stop for about six days, until the reach the shores of the Yellow Sea, likely an inter-tidal flat of Korea. There they will feed up again before making the final flight to the breeding grounds of the Artic. It was a privilege to witness.

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