Friday, 23 June 2017

Syd The SIPO

Syd the SIPO

The South Island Oystercatcher , (SIPO) is an oystercatcher from New Zealand. It is quite similar to our Australian Pied Oystercatcher (APO), but the SIPO has a slightly larger bill and shorter legs. SIPO's are endemic to NZ, but occasionally a lone individual turns up on the East Coast of Australia. SIPO's have now been recorded 10 times in Australia since 1998.

Last year, an oystercatcher was banded at Stockyard Point. It was identified as an APO and given a red leg flag of 1N. This oystercatcher then flew to Ballina, where it was identified in late December as a South Island Pied Oystercatcher. 

June came around, and on the 18th, Simon Star went to Stockyard Point, where the SIPO had been banded. After some searching, lo and behold, there was 1N! Birders rushed to Stockyard Point, to add a SIPO to their Vic list. I wasn't able to make it until the 22nd, but I got there eventually.

Stockyard Point is a point of land on the eastern side of Western Port Bay, near Jam Jerrup. It is a popular location for shorebirds, with its large tidal mudflats.

A variety of shorebirds coming into land  - Stockyard Point

Stockyard Point, Google Maps
Stockyard Point
The beach, western side of Stockyard Point

It took 3 hours to get to Stockyard Point from Bairnsdale, and we arrived around 8 AM. It was overcast, but calm. High tide was due at 11 AM, so we had a bit of time to wait. As we were waiting, we saw some Cape Barren Geese in the distance, two Terek Sandpipers, a Gull Billed Tern, numerous APOs and lots of ducks.


 It got closer to 11AM, and more birders turned up. Eventually there was about 11 birders, all peering through scopes and cameras, waiting....

Don't know where everyone went..

Oystercatchers were flying in, two or three at a time. There was a medium sized flock, right in front of us, feeding and preening.

Then, someone called out, there it is! A oystercatcher flew in, bearing the tag 1N. The larger bill and shorter legs, were noticeable, but only just.

Syd is the 2nd on from the left

Syd is the 4th from the left
Syd seemed to mix in well with the APOs, and I would have lost it if it hadn't been for the other birders calling out its position.

After some time, we turned our attention to the shorebirds that had flown in.

Double Banded and Red Capped Plovers, Curlew Sandpiper, Red Necked Stint

Red Knot, Red necked Stint, Double Banded Plover

There was around 60 Red Knots, many Curlew Sandpipers, Red Necked Stints and Red Capped Plovers.

Some of the Curlew Sandpipers and Red Knots were in spectacular breeding plumage.

Curlew Sandpiper in red breeding plumage
Apparently these birds will probably overwinter here.

After photographing the waders, we started to head back. It was a 1.3Km walk back to the carpark, but a Brown Goshawk being attacked by a raven added some interest.

We then headed over to Reef Island, but that's another story.

All up, we got 6 lifers, and 10 new species for 2017.  Lifer pie consisted of a piece of Apple Slice from the Rosedale bakery.

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