Sunday, 1 January 2017

Ashmore Reef 05 -- Middle Island and Horseshoe Cay

Middle Island and Horseshoe Cay

These were our destinations on third day at Ashmore Reef. This is the island where the terns usually live and breed. With 24,000 Sooty Terns and plenty of Bridled Terns on West Island, we wondered if there would be any left there!

The usual photogenic dawn.

As The Pig came into shore at Middle Island, Rohan Clarke yelled out, "Quick. Give me the binoculars". In the huge number of Sooty and Bridled Terns, Boobies and Lesser Frigatebirds spiralling in the updraft above the island, a "white tropicbird" was re-identified as a leucistic frigatebird, This was a mega find and many, many photos were taken. It was a star bird of the trip. We named him/her "Snowflake".

"Snowflake" Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel
Great Frigatebird, female Frigate minor
Lesser Frigatebird, male Fregata ariel
After the excitement of Snowflake and nesting frigate birds and boobies, we were off just a few hundred metres to Horseshoe Cay and it's plethora of shorebirds. Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Godwits, Turnstones, Stints, Sanderling, Tattlers, Terns, Greenshanks and one Terek Sandpiper.

One Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus amongst a scattering
of Sanderling Calidris alba with
a Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa breviceps,
a Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus and
the asiatic race of the Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica affinis
One interesting resident was this crab. Can you tell me what it is? I don't know! Reminds me of SquareBob Spongepants.

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