Redshank in flight
Common redshank flying over wetlands in Sri Lanka – photo: ©Tony Neilson

An uncommon occurrence in Australia


The common redshank is anything but common when it comes to sightings on the Australian mainland. So, seeing five in one place at one time must be a minor miracle.

The phenomenon occurred late last year, a few days before I arrived at the very spot were some visiting birders saw, and apparently photographed, the unusual gathering.

Where was it? At the Broome Bird Observatory of course. Well, not exactly ‘at’, but directly out-front of the BBO where a wooden platform offers great viewing of the famed Roebuck Bay feeding grounds.

Very excited

If the lucky birders were from Europe or Asia, they probably wouldn’t have got very excited about five redshanks in a flock of roosting waders. But as BBO warden Nigel Jacket said, “They were probably the only five redshanks anywhere in Australia at that time.”

(Yes, I know redshanks are considered common on Cocos-Keeling Island and Christmas Island, but we’re talking ‘mainland’ here.)

Hanging out

A few days later, I sighted one of the five redshanks hanging out with a big group of common greenshanks, but it wasn’t keen to have its picture taken.

The common redshank is carnivorous and known to consume worms, molluscs, crustaceans, spiders and insects. It has also been recorded eating fish and tadpoles. The species is diurnal and nocturnal; they locate prey by sight during the day and use touch at night. They feed on rocky, sandy or muddy shores (Higgins & Davies 1996).

©Natural Images 2019

Greenshank eating prawn
The genuinely ‘common’ greenshank with a fresh Aussie prawn – photo: ©Tony Neilson

©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.


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