Long-billed Dowitcher - Lake Tutchewop, Victoria
The birding community were surprised and delighted when, on the 7th of November 2014, a long-billed dowitcher was sighted at Lake Tutchewop, northern Victoria. This was the first Australian record and the location was just a few hours drive north of Melbourne.
The sighting was remarkable because they are a northern hemisphere bird that breeds in the wet tundra in far northern North America and eastern Siberia before migrating to the southern United States and as far south as Central America. They are a rare, but regular visitor to western Europe. They forage in shallow water, or on mud, probing for insects, molluscs, crustaceans, worms and sometimes, plant material.
Presumably this bird had joined a flock of sharp-tailed sandpiper and/or red-necked stint for their southerly migration and just "went along with the crowd".
As I watched I could see it was clearly enjoying its out-of-the-way destination as it successfully searched for food in the shallow water, seemingly unconcerned by my presence just 20m away.
And a big "thank you" to the anonymous birders who left a message on my car windscreen giving the bird's most recent location on the lake.
Images © Russell Cockman