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.|
portrait to finish.