• ClickingFroglet (Custom)
Jan 18: All’s well that ends well

I headed north up the M1 in the dim light of dawn, apprehensive because the stint hadn’t been seen for much of yesterday, but also expectant that it might show again in the calm of morning. Arriving at Tinchi Tamba I followed Ged Tranter’s instructions of how to navigate onto the saltmarsh where the stint had been seen yesterday. I’m always deeply grateful for folks that go the extra mile in helping others catch up with birds – it’s a lovely generosity of spirit. Sloshing through the mud, I saw Rob Morris and Elliot Leach already on site, along with Rick Franks and Felicia Chan. There had been no sign of the stint so far, but there were hundreds of shorebirds about, mostly Red-necked Stints, but also Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Eastern Curlew etc. Sharpies and stints were feeding together in several places, and we carefully checked every stint we could see, on the saltmarsh as well as on the small brackish pools in the grassy areas.

There was simply no sign of the Long-toed Stint for well over an hour, but shorebirds were flying about and mixing up, so we remained hopeful. I saw one interesting looking stint land briefly in the one of the brackish pools but it disappeared after a fraction of a second and I was left wondering what I’d seen. I tracked it flying over to the east side of the marsh, and wandered over there. Another 20 minutes checking stints, but nothing different. Eventually Rob Morris picked out the Long-toed Stint, an excellent piece of birding at quite some distance. We edged forward and got reasonably good views of the bird – showing characteristic long-legged, long-necked shape, distinct rufous cap giving it the appearance of a miniature sharpie, yellow legs, dark centred scapulars and, in one grainy pic, I think I can see a very long central toe. It was too far for my 400mm lens, but I got a few pixellated pics by holding the phone up to the scope. I was totally thrilled – this is a great bird, perhaps only the second or third record for Brisbane.

Chris Burwell arrived and got onto the stint. Then Rob had to leave, while Elliot and I chatted about outlandish strategies for finding difficult birds in Brisbane; most notably we decided to organise a pelagic trip off Moreton Island some time later in the year. This got me researching usual protocols for defining county boundaries offshore for birding purposes – I discovered that in the USA they assign each coordinate at sea to the county of the closest point of land. This would probably work OK for us – Mat Gilfedder and I are the first folks (as far as we know) to take on a county-level year-listing challenge in Australia. We get to make up the rules! After leaving Elliot at the first lagoon watching the Black-necked Stork, I headed for work and did no further birding today.

Long-toed Stint was the only year tick of the day, and my year list at the end of the day was 197 species. I spent 2 hours 39 minutes birding, walked 5.746 km and drove 76.0 km.

Now that is a long toe!