Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 39 - Stilts

One of the (many) things I like about birding is coming upon the unexpected; and this does not have to mean finding something that is rare.  Large numbers of common birds, a common bird in an uncommon place are just as interesting to me (and probably more interesting in a real sense) then some form of storm blown rarity that is likely to soon be dead at the hands of the weather or  a passing cat.

So, last week I was pleased to find birds that fitted into both groups - an abundance of birds I had hoped to see, as well as a few birds where I did not expect them.

Lake Victoria is an shallow saline lake that has been expanded by the digging of shell grit.  According to sources on the Web it "sometimes holds internationally significant numbers of banded Stilts" - I think I managed to visit it on such a day!  I have no real idea how many of these birds were present, but there were 4 very dense flocks just loafing about and many more birds in one area feeding.  I find it hard to believe that there were less the 2000 birds there.


The Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) is about 36 - 45 cm long with a fine black bill. It is nomadic within Australia and only breeds when large salt lakes form in parts of central Australia - and given that central Australia is a desert that's not very year - or even most years if the truth be told.  The key thing to look for on these birds is the white head - they always have one.  Adult birds in breeding plumage also have a chestnut band across the chest.







I have to say I was pretty excited to see these!

So, a few days later I was out in the evening at Lake Lorn - which is about 20 minutes from Point Lonsdale when I found two Black-Winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus).  These are an Australian race of a wide spread species - but I was not expecting to see them.

The key difference here is that they have a black back to their heads - and completely black wings if you see them in flight.




As you may well imagine, it was a good way to end a day.

Now its over to you - use the link below to join in with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Link, visit, invite and enjoy!  (and as a special plea, could you make sure you link to your actual  WBW post, rather than just to your general blog address!) 

45 comments:

Brian King said...

Beautiful shots! I love seeing the big flocks. These are very cool birds, anyway, and you took great photos of them!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Oh my gosh, these are such awesome shots. The group shots are so striking with those thin red legs. Love the blocks of color on these birds - very dramatic. What a great find and you did such an amazing job photographing them.

Andrea said...

Oh, beautiful find and great pictures, Stewart, I love the Stilts though I don't see them around here ... and I have't seen anything like these Stilts ever. Their little pink legs look so fragile, though I know they are not. I live vicariously through your wonderful pictures, Stewart. Thank you again for a new lesson in Bird Watching ...

Andrea @ From The Sol

TexWisGirl said...

such handsome birds! make a very striking flock! love the brown bib on the first. just gorgeous birds, all of them!

HansHB said...

Awesome shots, well done!

Carletta said...

There are quite a number of them for sure.
Really great captures Stewart!
Their pink legs and black and white feathers make for a lovely combination of color.

ladyfi said...

Fabulous shots!

The vintage carousel was outside Hotel de la Ville.

Heather Wilde said...

Ay up there, them Stilts look grand! I am here on behalf of young Findlay who is at Grandma's. Another fabulous post and thanks for all the great Wild Bird Wednesday work.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Oh my gosh...this is one INCREDIBLE post!!!

i stora drag said...

Lovely pictures and so nice to see so many of them!
Have a pleasent week!
Greetings Pia

Gordon said...

Awsome pics Stewart, it must have been terrific to be there, and get the whole panarama.
Gordon.

mick said...

Great photos of the Stilts. It would be fantastic to see that many of them all together like that. Very interesting to compare the Black-winged ones as well. We see them up here but not - so far! - the others!

Carole M. said...

such great photographs of these beautiful waders Stewart; I'd have loved to been there too. So many of them as well and lovely clear images.

dancingaspensfarm said...

I love your first shot especially! All those beautiful red legs ~ wonderful!

Marcia said...

They come by their name honestly don't they. I see why you like to photograph them.

Amanda said...

Stilts are lovely! Glad you had such a great trip. I will have to check out Lake Victoria myself.

DIMI said...

Great post Stewart!Wonderful photos and amazing captures!!Very preety birds!!Have a lovely day!
Dimi..

Neil said...

Would love to see that many Stilts in one place.

DeniseinVA said...

Beautiful! Thanks Stewart, I have enjoyed your post very much.

Kerri said...

What beautiful birds! and GREAT to see so many of them together like that!

David Oliver said...

Interesting looking birds. Great shots.

She Who Carries Camera said...

What a treat! Did you get any shots in flight? Love their pink legs!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It is always amazing to me to see such big flocks of shorebirds..and the fact that these are so pretty with their red 'stockings' and graceful carriage just makes it even more wonderful. Love these pictures. I can see the difference between the two types once you pointed it out, but probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

pattisjarrett said...

They look so fluffy!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Breathtaking, stunning, unbelievable. What a treat to be able to photograph such glorious birds!!

Arija said...

Just seeing your post is exciting, I can just imagine how thrill you were.So often, the most exciting thing is in the surprise element of the unexpected.
Thank you for all the great photos, your meme teaches us bird identification so much better than searching in books.

Vineeta Yashswi said...

All shots are amazing...

Stuart Price said...

Wow that is a lot of stilts..........

CabinGirl said...

I completely agree about coming upon surprises along your daily routine, Stewart. I love finding something that just takes your breath away or makes you pause as you watch it.

And these stilts are amazing! I would've been frozen in awe.

Love all the detail you captured in the photos.

grammie g said...

HI Stewart..What a amazing sight to come upon just beautiful, but I must admit when I saw the first one I chuckled because it also looks comical to see them all standing together with all those legs, something I have never seen!!
Magnificent looking bird and great photos Love the sticking black and white contrast.
Grace

Sharon Wagner said...

The group of Stilts are wonderful shots. Thanks for showing us the group shots and the individual. Nice.

Rohrerbot said...

Stewart, great shots of all the birds!!!I need to visit an ocean soon as I miss all those really amazing birds. Hope you're having a great week!

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

Wow, awesome photo of all those birds! They do look like they are on stilts.
Thanks for hosting Wild Bird Wednesday.

Small City Scenes said...

My word, what an interesting bird. Love the markings. Great images. Thanks. MB

Gillian Olson said...

Great looking birds, love the big flock of banded stilts, you caught some wonderful reflections too.

Liz said...

Absolutely wonderful shots, Stewart! I love Stilts!
I see many Black-winged Stilts up here among the migratory shorebirds but I have never come across a Banded Stilt. What a find.

Mama Zen said...

These are really amazing!

Faye said...

Such graphic markings on these birds--they look like they're wearing tuxedos. :)And your photos of the flocks are so dramatic, especially with the stilt reflections.

I like this meme a lot but am going to need to do some birding--and learn to identify a few more--just to keep participating.

Marlo RepurposeMyLife said...

I love the first photo. Thanks for hosting.

Wally Jones said...

WOW! I would have just stood there with my mouth open and forgot to take any pictures!

Really interesting information on the Stilts! Superb photographs, really!

Thank you so much for sharing these, Stewart!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Wow, how wonderful for you to view so many of these beauties all at once and also the 2 different species of Stilts later. I find it so interesting to learn about birds from other lands and to appreciate hem even more...thank you Stewart~

Karen said...

I like the odd couple!!

lindaakacraftygardener said...

fascinating water birds

Rosemary Aubut said...

Beautiful birds! I have never seen these before! Great photography!

Larry said...

Wow Stewart, two species of Stilts within a couple of days, awesome! I love those Banded Stilts. You certainly got some great photos of the flocks!