The Best Little Shorebird in Town

November 3, 2015: Colombo, Sri Lanka — On the way back to Bangkok this afternoon, Par, Tui, Nang and i passed with the aid of Pak Thale, the website online of our previous Spoon-billed Sandpiper sagas. Despite the fact that we burned a number of hours browsing there two days in the past, Par advised we stop today to check out the Spoon-bill one final time.


Pak Thale is an area of commercial salt pans the place ocean water is guided through a maze of shallow impoundments to evaporate. It’s a tidal method, of path, because of this the salt pans furnish excellent habitat for waders. 1000's of migratory shorebirds, from 20 exceptional species, stuffed an discipline of a number of acres. Somewhere among them were one or two Spoon-billed Sandpipers, each one smaller than your fist.


After we arrived, a lone Swedish birder named Johan was standing within the solar with a best spotting scope, watching a bit fatigued. “I’ve been here for six hours,” he said, “and haven’t noticeable the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, even though one used to be stated right here the day past.” That definite sounded acquainted! Johan gave the impression gratified to go off the baton and, before he went to search out some color, left his cell number in case we managed to identify one.


The 4 of us spread out to quilt the territory and we had been joined by Mr. Deang, a nearby birder whom Par had called for added support. We all knew the quest picture: The tiny Spoon-billed Sandpiper appears similar to a red-necked Stint (a usual shorebird right here) except its beak is spatulate on the tip, like a bit of shovel, and it has a further feeding movement. As a substitute of utilising its beak like a stitching computing device, it swipes it from facet to facet. The change is more delicate than it sounds, and you quite often have to look at every character bird to choose out the Spoon-bill.


I used to be standing next to Tui, who had become slightly distracted with the aid of gulls (“See that one?” he said at one factor, “It’s a primary-winter Heuglin’s Gull [a subspecies of Lesser Black-backed Gull], an individual one in Thailand”), when he abruptly stiffened, stepped back from the scope, and grabbed me by way of the shoulders. No phrases were quintessential as I peered by way of the eyepiece. There, peering again from behind a spoon-shaped beak, was once some of the world’s rarest shorebirds.


You wouldn’t be aware of this hen was once critically endangered simply by looking at it. For its section, it traditionally didn’t have much suggestion of its species’ peril, both. It foraged energetically alongside a bunch of pink-necked Stints, once in a while chasing probably the most stints out of its individual area. Tui deftly picked out a 2d Spoon-invoice, and, even as we have been photographing those two, Par found a third one in the equal flock. I don’t understand what number of countless numbers of grainy, far away photographs I took (so much for philosophical birding!). For me, this was once one of the crucial emotional and wonderful birds of the yr—often working hard makes the reward sweeter.


I texted Johan, the Swedish guy, who arrived on a bike as we have been heading out. He gave the impression a bit green with envy of our crew (it’s fun to roll with a posse of locals!) but was grateful for the tip. Meanwhile, Par, Tui, and Nang again me to Bangkok after an motion-packed 5 days in Thailand. I flew west into the night time, towards Sri Lanka, with Spoon-billed Sandpipers flitting by means of my desires.


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