Wandering WTP with Lindsay

My Flickr Mate  Lindsay,  Lynz Wee  was down for his annual pilgrimage to the Western Treatment Plant.

He came in for a Friday jaunt, but, the weather had other ideas and we had 3 DAYS of Total Fire Ban.  And WTP is closed on such days.  So, he had to ‘cool his heels’, (can’t believe I wrote that about 40+ C days.)

We managed an afternoon on Monday.  Started out good weather and promised a low tide around dusk, so all was set for an interesting day.   One thing about driving about with Lindsay, there is never a dull moment and the conversation crackled back and forth at at right royal pace.  Even managed a few stops for photography.

After a late afternoon tea-break at The Borrow Pits we headed back to a spot on 145W Outflow.  The tide runs out well here and the sand-mud flats expose quickly and it can be a good place for the odd wader or so.

We settled in, and at first there was only a handful of the usual suspects and a squadron or two of Silver Gull.

“Must have my wader repellant on,” quoth he.   “Give it time, once the tide goes out a bit they’ll come by”, reassured I, and wondering where else we might travel to find something.
More time passed and the gulls were now in flotilla formation and numbers.  “Must be Gull attractor I’m wearing”, quips he.

We also had a sneaking suspicion that a White-bellied Sea-eagle would put in an appearance, but I guess the bird didn’t know of our appointment.

Then from down the coast a dark swirling cloud began to mass up.  And we are talking dark, swirling.

The closer it came the more birds joined in, until, like one of those video clips you see of England or Naples, a veritable murmuration began to take shape. And still they kept coming. The speed of the turns, and the flashing dark/white shapes and the beauty of the sweeping masses was a sight to behold.

It’s impossible to describe and impossible to show visually with only a long lens that picks out just a small part of the hoard that made its way to the sandbar. Things were looking up in the wader department.

Thousand of Stints and Sandpipers and a host of other waders all swept across the sky. Literally from horizon to horizon.

“How’s that”, I cried.  But he was too busy running the Canon at 10 frames per second, not missing any of the action.  Then they settled on the exposed mudflats and began their meal.  Within minutes the area only metres from our tripod legs were hundreds of busy little feeders.  Not caring about the human presence, they simply tucked in.
And it was all going so well, until.  “My battery is flat, have to go back and get another”.
And so we trekked back to the car.  Only to find EE waving frantically at us, and pointing, so  we good naturedly waved back. And chatted about what we’d just witnessed, and how EE has probably been photographing all sorts of good things while we were otherwise engaged, including of course the Elusive Sea-eagle.

When we got there, it was, “Did you see the Sea-eagle????  I was waving out to you, it nearly went right over your heads!!!”.
NO!!!  Well it didn’t matter anyway as the Canon battery was flat.   But….

Here is a few frames to try and capture the way the gathering gathered in.

I only had the long lens on board, so this really just an small section, think 20 or more times to get the real feel.

Just a tiny portion of the huge numbers of birds that came down to feed.
Just a tiny portion of the huge numbers of birds that came down to feed.

_DWJ5584 _DWJ5588 _DWJ5590

Settling in, there is hardly space between birds.
Settling in, there is hardly space between birds.
Can only begin to imagine what it looks like when they are migrating to and from Siberia.
Can only begin to imagine what it looks like when they are migrating to and from Siberia.