Inspired by my bedtime reading of How to be a bad birdwatcher by Simon Barnes, I borrowed a pair of binoculars to take on my walk to the estruary yesterday. I also took my little field guides to help me know what I was seeing. I took a sandwich too, but unfortunately I forgot to take a camera so no pictures for you today (unless you follow the links).
I was pleasurably absorbed by the abundant birdlife for at least an hour, much longer than I expected it to hold my attention. As Simon Barnes says, the thing about using binoculars is that, seen close up, birds are much, much more interesting than when they appear as distant blurs.
Mainly I watched a flock of about 24 royal spoonbills hanging out on the shore, one long black leg tucked up into their white feathery bellies, and their spoon shaped beaks twisted back under a wing. Every now and then one would stretch a stalk like leg behind and sinuous neck in front before reassuming its resting pose. And a couple of them did really exciting things like paddle about in the water, or poke in amongst some grass for food. Okay, so you had to be there, but really, it was lovely to watch.
I think I saw a reef heron fly past, but I definitely spent a long time spying on a white faced heron. Only a couple of metres away from me, it slowly and gracefully waded along the reedy bank catching little fish. I could see the bulge in its long throat as it swallowed them.