12 Nov 2014

12 Nov 14 - The Sandpiper With The "Sweet Tooth"

I woke up this morning to find we were approaching the island of Tenararo in French Polynesia. This is a low-lying coral atoll island & is one of the five islands that is home to the enigmatic Tuamotu Sandpiper. We arrived around mid morning & we were all keen to get ashore as quickly as possible. The beach looks like a rocky beach, but it is make up of weathered, ground smooth coral.
Tenararo: It is a low-lying coral atoll with a large Coconut plantation on part of the island, which shows it has been modified by the Polynesians in the past. It is now uninhabited
The coral beach
Looking the other way along the beach: Note, the large fishing floats on the beach
It was mainly Coconuts behind the beach
As I got close to the island, I could see the others were already photographing the Tuamotu Sandpipers and as expected they were pretty close and they were on the beach checking out their new visitors.
Tuamotu Sandpiper: One of the pair on the beach who came to greet us. They are the size of a small, fat Dunlin
Tuamotu Sandpiper: They are a very active species & they love to get really close which can be a pain when they come a lot closer than the 3.5 metres my 400mm lens will focus down to
Tuamotu Sandpiper: Their behaviour suggested they might have had chicks on the beach & they were trying to distract us as they often ran into this natural vegetation
Tuamotu Sandpiper: But then they forgot they were meant to be distracting us as they found a flower & started to feed. They must be the only nectar-eating Wader. I saw this behaviour of getting distracted by food on a number of occasions from different individuals
Tuamotu Sandpiper: Meal over, it was time to try distracting us again
As if they didn't think they were cute enough already, they would frequently take to the air calling, whilst flying slowly around us.
Tuamotu Sandpiper: Occasionally, they would catch me out with a short flight, usually whilst calling
Tuamotu Sandpiper: Frustratingly, none of the flight photos are really sharp
Tuamotu Sandpiper: They were quite comfortable landing on the coastal bushes or on the Coconut branches