Twice each year millions of migratory wading birds make the long-distance journey between the hemispheres, many arriving on the Australian continent in our Spring, after breeding in the northern hemisphere a few months earlier. Sandpipers, plovers, stints and godwits are just some of the marvellous waders that grace us with their presence. Many head towards coastal wetlands, sandy beaches and embayments, with a good number spending the summer on inland waterways or using these areas as stop-over points on migration. Occasionally a rarity will turn up, like the Long-billed Dowitcher that arrived at Lake Tutchewop recently.
While not in same class as the dowitcher, I was pleased to see a single Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia last evening at Cairn Curran. It’s not a rarity but it is a new bird for my local list – number 216 in fact!
The Common Greenshank is noticeably larger than a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – a few of which were feeding nearby last night. The greenshank isn’t strikingly marked in non-breeding plumage, but the general shape, slightly upturned bill and long greenish-yellow legs are distinctive. The bird uttered its typical whistle as it flew – a sound I remember well from observing the species in my youth.
Common Greenshanks breed in the taiga and forest zones of the Palaearctic, nesting in forest clearings, moorlands with scattered trees, or treeless upland bogs. Central Victoria in summer is a pretty different destination! Click here to read more about the species.
I’m always on the lookout along the shoreline at this time of year – you never know what might turn up.