Tuesday, 27 December 2011

2011 = A Year with Spoon Billed Sandpipers.

I have not done an end of year review for a few years now but I feel that I really should do one for the year of 2011 just for a personal memory point of view if nothing else. Instead of uploading lots of photos and text of all the highlights throughout the year I thought I would keep it just to waders and leave the photos to tell the story. So without further a do the year of 2011 review is:

Winter:

Above shows a Long Billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor reserve, Weymouth, Dorset which kicked off the year in January.
Above shows a Greater Yellow Legs at Lagoa do Junco, Terceira Island, Azores in February.
Above shows a Lesser Yellow Legs at Cabo da Praia quarry, Terceira Island, Azores in February.
Above shows the first of the mission, a Spoon Billed Sandpiper, Khok, Kham, Gulf of Thailand. I had set myself the task of not only just seeing Spoon Billed Sandpiper at each location but also photographing them. The mission nearly failed straight away as I nearly never got a photograph of this first individual, hence the poor quality shot here but hey, it is enough to document the record.
Above shows a small part of a flock of 300 Asian Dowitchers at Bang Bo Whai, Gulf of Thailand, in March.
Above shows an Oriental Pratincole, Petchaburi Provence, Thailand in March.
Above shows a Nordmans Greenshank, Krabi, Thailand in March.
Above shows a Banded Lapwing Cullimulla Australia in March
Above shows a Wandering Tattler at Caloundra, Queensland, Australia in March.

Spring:
Above shows a Sharp Tailed Sandpiper at Yangkou, Rudong provence, China in April
Above shows a Spoon Billed Sandpiper at Yankou, Rudong Provence, China in April.
Above shows a Western Sandpiper, Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia in May.
Above shows a Long Billed Dowitcher, Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia in May.
Above shows a Semi Palmated Plover, Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia, May.
Above shows a Pectoral Sandpiper, Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia in May. A species that I had hoped to see on the breeding grounds this trip.
Above shows a Great Knot, Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia, May. This was a very welcome species and I couldn't have hoped for a better showing individual.

Summer:
Above shows a Spoon Billed Sandpiper, Meinopilginor, Russia, June. This was what it was all about, seeing a breeding plumaged bird on the breeding grounds (a long time coming)
Above shows a Red Knot, Meinopilginor, Russia, June. This individual was known as the New Zealand male as this bird is wearing a colour-flag ring code from New Zealand where this bird was originally ringed. Seeing this species in breeding plumage on the breeding grounds was very much appreciated.
Above shows a Mongolian Plover,Meinopilginor, Russia, June
Above shows a Red Necked Phalarope, Meinopilginor, Russia, June.
Above shows an adult Red Necked Stint, Meinopilginor, Russia, June.
Above shows a Red Necked Stint chick, Meinopilginor, Russia, July
Above shows a Grey Tailed Tattler, Meinopilginor, Russia, July.
Above shows a Wandering Tattler, Meinopilginor, Russia, July. This species was a very welcome surprise to this trip to Russia.
Above shows a Spoon Billed Sandpiper, Meinopilginor, Russia, June. Watching this bird fly up, return, walk to and hunker down on to the nest proving that this bird was incubating provided the perfect ultimate finale for this species on the longest day of the year during the summer solstice.
Above shows a Spoon Billed Sandpiper chick in the wild, Meinopilginor, Russia, July. This was the perfect ending to this trip to Russia with only 2 days to spare before departing it couldn't have been timed any better and something that I so wanted to have the privilege of seeing. I will never forget this day.
Autumn:
Above shows an adult Spoon Billed Sandpiper, Yangkou, China, August
Above shows a first summer Spoon Billed Sandpiper, Yangkou, China, August.
September arrives and so do I to Terciera Island, Azores. Yet again the famous Cabo da Praia quarry delivers the goods. This time in the form of a nicely plumaged juvenile Short Billed Dowitcher.
Above shows a Lesser Yellow Legs 1 of 3 present during my time here.
Above shows a Hudsonian Whimbrel in fields near Cabo da Praia quarry but also got in to the quarry.
Above shows a nice crisp juvenile Semi Palmated Sandpiper 1 of 9 present during my time and this was a personal high count record for myself in the quarry.
Then I was working in Malaysia and so only fitting I include a photo of the Nations Plover above.

Winter:
Once my contract period was completed I continued with my travels, travelling overland through peninsular Malaysia on to Penang Island specifically to see Swinhoes / White Faced Plover above.
Departing Penang Island I travelled overland and crossed the border in to southern Thailand and stopped off at Krabi to look for and to try photograph Nordmans Greenshank above the only bird present on this day.
Departing Krabi island I hopped over to Koh Lanta where a week later I returned back to Krabi and went back out in to the estuary again to look for and hopefully photograph Nordmans Greenshank above which was 1 of 5 present on this day.
Departing Krabi I headed overland to Bangkok and on to Khok Kham in the hope of seeing Spoon Billed Sandpiper to complete the task I had set myself this year of following Spoon Billed Sandpipers through their annual cycle. This was the final leg of this journey and a successful one at that where I was lucky enough to photograph the individual above. 1 of 3 present on this day.
I departed Thailand on Thursday the 15th of Decemeber and flew to Australia where I was lucky enough to the see the above Wandering Tattler. 1 of 2 present this day at Caloundra.
Above shows 2 of 3 Sooty Oystercatchers present again at Caloundra but this time on Boxing Day.

This brings the year of 2011 to a close but it wasn't all easy going, it was a tough year at times and being away, travelling is great but also has its costs, I also learnt who and what is important to me, I got home-sick more than I ever thought I would, I missed certain individuals and I also missed some birds that I would have liked to have seen if it were a normal year,. Both the Semi P Sand and Long Billed Dowitcher at east Tilbury, inner Thames estuary both found by Paul Wood closely followed by the White Tailed Tropicbird on Corvo, Azores but I guess I can't complain. Infact I guess I was very very lucky to be in the position of actually carrying out one of the dream trips / years. So now I believe that 2 other individuals should have the last say and bring this posting to end.


Video footage above was taken using my my trusty Sony through my equally trusty Swarovski. It was a Saturday afternoon in June and it was a grey, grim and cold day but having time alone, just sat there watching the individual above, photographing and taking the video footage was just one of those "Moments" I suspect I won't get to ever witness this again and "you know some things are just meant to be a one off and left as they are" Even if I was to witness this again it wouldn't be as good as the first time. Video footage below is of Suchard "AKA" Mr Tee to most people. He has played a significant role over the previous 9 years during my time with Spoon Billed Sandpipers. He has always been kind and generous to me by making me feel very welcome to his family and inviting me in to his home and has done a lot for Spoon Billed Sandpipers and the conservation of Khok Kham and so I believe that he should have the final word on this story for this year.

One last thing, the reason for this year out / with Spoon Billed Sandpipers was partly because I actually felt guilty of taking so much out of / from Waders over the years, since the age of 14 where I found my first interest in this group of birds I have gained a lot of enjoyment from them but also used them as medication taking a "big gulp of Waders" seemed to cure most things, I used them as escapism as when I am alone, searching through a nearby flock or just watching a single bird I seemed to forget all the agro in life and to get that "at one inner-peaceful feeling" also that Solitude feeling and so I needed / wanted to try and give something back. I don't know how I can measure what I have done and suspect me being me I doubt if it will ever feel like it is enough and so I will continue to try and do more in my own way and hope some how I can give a little something back. I upload this posting earlier than I had wanted to because I am heading off to Brisbane airport to board my next long haul flight where I will hopefully arrive in time to get settled and make it out in the field at the start of 2012.

I hoped you liked browsing through the blog this year and hope I can continue to upload some interesting posts & photos of waders during the year of 2012.

Good luck for the new year to each and every one of you, lets hope 2012 is a good year....

And remember: A man who has lived his life without making mistakes has hardly lived.