Meet the Ruddy Turnstone – one of the easiest shorebirds to identify in the field with its orange legs and boldly patterned plumage.
The Bar-tailed Godwit holds the world record for longest distance travelled without stopping for any animal. Godwits fly directly across the Pacific Ocean from the Arctic Tundra to Australasia – a record breaking leap of 12,000 km from Alaska to New Zealand in 9 days.
Meet the Grey Plover! Did you know that most of the Grey Plovers in Australia are girls? They also love to eat sea cucumbers!
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus The Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, is a medium-sized wader in the curlew family. Whimbrels have a long neck and legs, and their bill curves slightly downwards. The legs are a dull, bluish-grey and the bill has a pink underside near the base. A distinctive feature of the Whimbrel is the head pattern –
The Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, is a heavily built wader which enjoys its own company; they are usually found solo or in twos, but not often in big groups. They have a white head and neck marked with dark grey flecks, a white eye ring, and a white underbody. The grey-brown upperbody of adults is distinguishable from the browner colour present in young birds. A dark outer-wing and white rump can be seen when in flight, as well as a white wedge on their backs.
The Far Eastern Curlew is the largest shorebird in the world. Only found in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, it weighs in at around 1.2 kilograms. The bill length of the Far Eastern Curlew can help to tell it apart from other shorebirds. Unlike a Whimbrel, its curved beak is so long that if it turned its head around, it could touch its tail.
The Great Knot (Calidris tenurostris) is a medium-sized shorebird with a straight black bill and short olive legs. Great Knots are sometimes difficult to tell apart from the closely related Red Knot (C. canutus). A neat trick to help distinguish a Great Knot from a Red Knot is to imagine the beak turned around 180 degrees. If the length of the beak extends beyond the length of the head, it is a Great Knot. If it is shorter than or about the same length of the head, it is a Red Knot.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) is one of our more striking migratory waders. Sporting a tawny crown and back, straight black bill and olive legs, the medium-sized ‘Sharpie’ is easy to pick out in a flock of smaller waders.
Introducing our most commonly encountered migratory wader, the Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis). Red-necked Stints are the smallest of the 37 migratory shorebirds to visit Australia. Although they weigh little more than a Tim Tam, their tiny wings carry them 25,000 kilometres between Australia and breeding grounds in Siberia and Alaska every year.
The Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) looks a bit like a Red-necked Stint that has had its bill and legs stretched. They have black legs and a black, down-curved bill adapted for pulling polychaete worms and other invertebrates from the mud.
Few birds inspire awe like shorebirds – a group wetland-dwelling bird species that perform the longest feats of migration known to the natural world.