Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Red-kneed Dotterels

The beautifully coloured Red-kneed Dotterel (Erythrogonys cinctus) is confined to mainland Australia and southern new Guinea with vagrant records in Tasmania and NZ. A nomadic shorebird, found mostly in freshwater habitats, they turn up on the Gippsland Lakes wetlands on a frequent but irregular basis.

They are a very distinctive shorebird – I like the apt description in the Pizzey & Knight Field Guide “black hangman’s hood” – and are unlikely to be confused with any other shorebird seen in Australia.

Recently I found about eight Red-kneed Dotterels feeding in mirror still shallow water at the sand islands in Jones Bay (on the Gippsland Lakes south of Bairnsdale). With the sun low in a late June clear blue winter sky and Jones Bay behind me reflecting and amplifying the light, the Dotterels were bathed in an abundance of red-end-of-the-spectrum light giving a saturated look to the colour of some of my photos. Amongst several birds in the photos some show black hoods and breast bars and others look brown. I am not sure if this is due to the light angle or if there is a real colour difference due to maturity of the birds?

Please click on photos to enlarge.

This is the location of the photos – the Red-kneed Dotterels were feeding in shallow water just off the sandy shoreline near the middle of the photo.















The birds were actively feeding by probing for food in the sand.
The knee (actually an ankle) is red and the rest of the leg (tarsus) is grey.
This photo was included to show the colour difference between some of the birds, some very black and others brown.







The red tibia and knee and grey tarsus show well in the this photo.

 
A close portrait to finish.