Category Archives: Waders Watch

Waders Watch-Mersing Part 2

Grey Plovers and Godwits chaased away by a boy.
Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits being flushed.

Documenting flocks of waders on the beaches is pretty standard. Try to get to a decent distance and photograph the entire flock a few times. This will help to give you a backup.

Bar-tailed Godwits and Gey Ploves.
Bar-tailed Godwits and Gey Ploves.

Then do a quick scan count using the bins to get an estimate of the different species present. This may be your only count if a raptor or some fishermen flushed them away.

Terek Sandpipers incoming.
Incoming Terek Sandpipers

I will use the scope and do a detailed count of the most identifiable species first, one species at a time. Normally I will count from left to right and then back again. Once done, it is time to go through the flock and look for the rarer species that I missed during the first two counts.

Great Knots stretching with a Terek Sandpiper behind.
Great Knots stretching with a Terek Sandpiper behind.

When all these are done, I will move in slowly for closer shots of the flock and the different group of the waders. I will normally capture some of the small species that were missed. I found the Broad-billed Sandpiper this way.

The last part is the one I like most, capturing them in action or in flight. The Lesser Sand Plovers are always chasing each other squabbling over food.

Grey Plover and its black armpits
Grey Plover showing off its armpit patch.

They also tend to fly from one part to another in search of a better feeding spot. There are always disturbances from raptors and people spooking them to take flight. You will have to anticipate these occurrences and get ready to press the shutter. Needless to say there will be some hits and many misses. But it was always great fun doing this. Great if you get some good images on the sensors. Here are some of these taken at Mersing Bay early this week.


Many thanks to Ron Chew for his inspiring photos and posting of the Mersing Waders.

Reference: A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan 1993.



Waders Watch- Mersing Part 1

Ron Chew had been monitoring and documenting the shorebirds at Mersing for some time now. Mersing Bay turned out to be a stop over for many of the rarer shorebirds during the spring migration. The bonus of seeing them at this time of the year is that many of them are in their breeding plumage.

Part of a roosting flock of 500 LSP, 100 Terek SP and 200 Little Terns.

Early this week, I made my way up there and found two groups of roosting shorebirds. One flock consists of 500 Lesser Sand Plovers, 200 Little Terns, 100 Terek Sandpipers and I was told a few Grey-tailed Tattlers and Common Sandpipers.

Part of the flock of 60 Bar-tailed Godwits. The two flagged Godwits are on the right.

Another cluster has about 400 Lesser Sand Plovers, 60 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Grey Plovers, 20 Great Knots, 14 Kentish Plovers, a few Ruddy Turnstones, Common Greenshanks, Common Sandpipers and a Broad-billed Sandpiper.

3 Great Knots, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and hidden Terek Sandpiper

Best time to photograph them is during late afternoon with the setting sun behind you. The tide should not be too low or else the waders will be feeding further out.

Grey Plovers with Great Knots in front.


Part of a flock of 20 Great Knots.


Two Great Knots of different sizes with a Grey Plover.


Breeding plumage of a Lesser Sand Plover and a Kentish Plover.

Great Knots never stop feeding
Close up of feeding Great Knots.
Terek Sandpipers
Last month, Ron reported 200 Terek Sandpipers at Mersing. Now we know where the Tereks gone to.
Broadbilled Sandpipe
Managed to find one Broad-billed Sandpiper with  Lesser Sand Plovers.
This Bar-tailed Godwit was flagged in Chongmin-dao on 17 Sept 2014. Shows the importance of places like this for migrating shorebirds.

Reference: A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia.Wild Bird Sciety of Japan. 1993.