Well one day this week saw me searching for shorebirds, as there must be some here somewhere that I can get to. There are signs up to explain that there are not many left due to reclamation, industry and pollution along the Nakdong Estuary, but I must be able to find something if I go out on low tide….surely?! I am enjoying the forest birds, but a shorebird would be a change and it would mean no climbing mountains! I checked the tides and the low would be in the afternoon, so I decided to walk to the estuary as it was only about 12 kilometres from our apartment and I had a morning to kill. The first nice bird was on the barrage as the tide was falling and it was balanced on the edge amongst all the debris.

Black-crowned Night Heron

I walked along the path along the edge of Elsukdo Island inside the reserve and although the edges were rock there seemed potential for something along the water’s edge. The fish were jumping like crazy as the tide went out and my first bird was a mystery to me. It was just stood on the rocks and I knew it was a gull, but we only have one sort of gull in Broome…Silver Gull. Well, it was not one of those and it was not in full breeding plumage…I knew that much! I took a photo and as I clicked I realised I had something else running along behind the gull. Thankfully I knew what that was…. a Grey-tailed Tattler!

Black-headed Gull and the tail of a Grey-tailed Tattler

I was not familiar with Korean Gulls and had to ask advice from my new friend. I thought it was either a Relict Gull or a Black-headed Gull and Jason believes it is most likely a Black-headed Gull based on it’s hood, narrow broken eye ring, long slender red bill, dull red legs and body shape. They are also likely to be on migration about now. So, I hope that’s right!

Anyway, the Grey-tailed Tattler was still with me, as it had discovered a great spot for little crabs and was eating them as fast as it could catch them!

Grey-tailed Tattler eating a crab

I then had another pair and they were amusing to watch as the planes fly directly over this island to get to Gimhae International airport. They looked up, just like they do at home in Broome!

Grey-tailed Tattler on the left watching a plane come overhead

The next one I had was calmly stood on a rock and then suddenly stretched as the next plane came over….busy airport!

A Grey-tailed Tattler stretches upwards in reaction to an aeroplane

I was feeling pretty good….shorebirds at last! Low tide is what you need! The other common shorebird that day was Common Sandpipers. They ran in and out of the growth on the edge of the mud and then flew short distances with their disjointed flight….why do they fly like they are still learning!? What was amusing was the crabs that were almost as big as the birds.

Common Sandpiper and crab

So, there are shorebirds here….not many, but you need to check the tides before you go….just like in Broome! Tide movement here is nothing like the 10 metres of movement we get at home, but it still neeeds to be considered before you head out. Anyway, that was enough walking by the time the tide was turning and I cheated and got a train home!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!