Mr An Onymous has remarked from time to time on his bemusement at water birds that spend all their time hunting, and standing about in the water, to spend some time bathing in the stuff.
Seems to him, that its a bit incongruous for a ‘water’ bird to then take the time to use the water to bathe, given its already dripping wet in places.
Which brings us to a fine warm morning at the Western Treatment Plant.
The waders that visit over summer are now getting the first signs of the travelling bug biting. Its time to pack on as much weight as possible, and to conserve as much energy as possible.
So as the tide comes in, and the mudflats are covered with water, they retire inland to some of the safer ponds and settle in for a long sleep, and a bit of a preen. No doubt feathers need be tip top for the long flight ahead.
There are a special set of small ponds near the Beach Road entrance the plant that almost always attract them in great numbers. Plenty of soft grass, the safety of rocks and small islands and water that is only knee deep for a dotterel.
And because they are trying to conserve energy, they are a little more approachable. I managed to quietly slip off the side of the road and working my way through the grasses come up pretty close to a large clutch of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, loafing in the sun.
The water in the ponds has come up a few centimetres of late, and I was not able to get a really low down water level shot without actually being in the water, so I opted for wet knees and elbows and hoped the water would not rise up through the grass and saturate me all over.
The Sharpies decided that with such nice sun, it was time for a bath. One by one, they stepped off the grasses and into the water for the tentative bobbing into the water then settled down like great big sponges, and simply soaked up the water. Which was then sprayed over all in close proximity. Finally a few wing flaps and a jump for joy, and the bird moved out of the way and the next one took up the challenge.
After about 20 minutes, and my knees and elbows turning strangely bleached, I rolled over back up the grass to the roadside. They didn’t flinch a feather.
Enjoy. They did.
8 thoughts on “Birds, water, enjoyment”
Yes, enjoy I did. Very much 🙂
Thanks, it was nice to be able to spend some time with these little birds in a much more relaxed atmosphere.
Lovely series of photographs David, and as always, I enjoyed the little essay as well.
Hi Eleanor, we were really lucky to have such a fine cool summers day, with the birds off the mudflats. Gave a bit better insight into their lives.
Great pics and story of the waders, I love waders:-)
Me too, I was lucky to be introduced to the Plant by a birdo who has a really deep love and respect for the wader groups and I learned so much from him.
I try to convey that same feel in the pics I make, and in the adventures we take with visitors down there.
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Wonderful photos. I’ve been reading, “This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon.” Thank goodness they invented photography. Because, during Audubon’s time there was no photography so he would kill the birds he painted. That was the only way he could capture the details of the birds he painted. So many of the birds he painted are now extinct, such as the Carolina Parrot.
If you haven’t read this book, you might want to take a look.
Thanks for that info. Same here in Oz. Most of our early birding info comes from dead specimens. Mr Cayley, who is the renowned artist from the early eras, work often I think shows the bird in a hunched, or unnatural pose as it was ‘dead’, and the right muscle and tendon functions had ceased and the body deformed. They are great paintings, no question, but they sometimes don’t match the pose I see in the real world.
I will take a look for the book, like to have some understanding of how they interacted with the birds in their time.
Thanks again for dropping by and taking the time to comment, I appreciated it.
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