We decided to go and visit the Spoon-billed Sandpiper site again this morning before breakfast. It turned out to be a good decision; this time there was no-one else there. We found the spoonies very quickly, we have really got our eyes in on this species now, so we settled down to wait for the birds to come closer.
Gradually the birds began to relax at our presence and go about their normal busy day. One of the spoonies was having a hard time relaxing though, there was one territorial, beligerant, intolerant Red-necked Stint that decided he was going to upset everyone around him. Whenever any bird settled down to feed the red-neck come running up and chase it off and stop it from doing whatever it was doing, just for the hell of it. We decided this red-neck had to be a male and he reminded us of a great and wasted ex-friend of ours who displays the same trait of wanting to spoil everyone else’s fun for no apparent reason.
|The red neck chasing off spoon a perceived interloper.|
In fact we owe this pest a vote of thanks, because due to his unreasonable behaviour we had one of the most excruciatingly, wonderful moments of our lives. One of the spoonies had had enough of being chased around and fled the scene to relieve himself of a rather stressful situation and to our utter delight alighted not 15 metres from us.
It ran up the bank and there it sat, and looked at us, deciding that we were not a threat it stayed put and as if that were not enough to satisfy even the most greedy of spoonie lovers another came and sat down beside it. And there they sat for some minutes, seemingly unperturbed by our proximity.
If ever there was a moment that told us that this was all worthwhile, that was it. These fantastically rare little birds pushed to the brink of extinction by mankind, having such trust in us. They must have seen the Wader Quest patches on our clothes and realised that we were only there to help and knew that although humans were often worth avoiding, not all were out to do them harm.
I know there are a million pleas for help and donations out there, especially in the world of birds where there are so many being dealt a rough hand by humanity, but surely this cause, that of saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper from extinction is up there at the top of the list. Please look into your hearts and souls and find a spare buck or two to help keep these birds on our planet and maybe you too will be able to experience this incredible privilege of sharing some time with the spoonies in the future that you have helped to provide for them.