As I was sitting on the Squeaky Beach photographing a wombat (!) I noticed some movement in the plants just off to my right.
I turns out that all the time I had been watching the wombat, a family of Hooded Plovers had been watching me. These are normally very shy birds that shoot along the beach as soon as you arrive, but these seemed a little more content to stay put. Another alternative idea is that the other five or six people who were watching the wombat had confused the birds, and they had nowhere else to go.
When the wombat left the beach the people left as well, leaving me with the Hooded Plovers. Knowing that they are a flighty bird I just sat still and hoped they would move towards me - well that did not happen, so I have had to crop these images a little more than I would like.
The Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis) normally lives on sandy ocean beaches on the West and East corners of Australia - and that is why this bird is struggling and is considered 'vulnerable' in Victoria. Ocean beaches are a favourite location for holiday makers (like me) and the disturbance often means that the birds fail to breed. However, a number of the breeding beaches now have protected zones, and this summer was one of the better breeding years of late.
Given the bright sunshine, the very pale sand and the distance the birds were away, I'm happy with the images.
On a different note - a number of people have asked why Squeaky Beach squeaks - as far as I am able to tell it squeaks because all the grains of sand are very similar in size, so when you scuff your feet in the sand they all roll over each other and that makes the squeak.
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