Living postcard – Visiting Stockton Sandspit January 2022

Living postcard – migratory birds of the Stockton Sandspit

A living postcard to remember visiting Stockton Sandspit

It was a privilege to be able to take a small trip with my mother and siblings to experience the delights of seeing migratory shorebirds that visit Stockton Sandspit on Woromi Country annually and create a living postcard.

Mangroves and Saltmarshes – a dynamic living environment

The mangroves and saltmarshes in this special Ramsar rated wetland in the Hunter Wetlands National Park host a range of species.The mangroves providing a stablity to the environment as well as a habitat for small crustaceans including shrimp. These delicate environments are endangered yet a perfect environment teaming with small animals like yabbies, crabs and shellfish living within the mudflats. They all contribute to the food web of this environment.

Shorebirds circuiting at the Stockton Sandspit

Eastern Curlews

These magnificent birds travel a long way from their locations in northeastern Asia to spend their winter in a warmer location. With dwindling numbers noted globally each year they are critically endangered internationally and are the world’s largest shorebird.

Their long curved beaks can probe deep into the mudflats to source shrimp and then help to throw their food deep into their gizzards to digest. Certainly a remarkable thing to watch. I was so mesmorised when I observed my first Easter Curlew feeding at the Urunga coastal wetlands in 2021 I made this video.


Forest Therapy Mary Bell - Eastern Curlew
Eastern Curlews in the saltmarshes of Stockton Sandspit

Bar-tailed Godwits

Bar-tailed Godwits can be difficult to distinguish from other godwits because they do look similar. Thier distinguising feature is they have an upturned bill which assists them locating and capturing prey. Foraging is important as they migrate from Alaska to Australia for the warmer summer months and make the longest known non-stop migration of any tracked bird. They have been known to clock up a 25 000 kilometre journey.

Forest Therapy Mary Bell- Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwits congregate at Stockton Sandspit on Woromi Country to forage for small animals in the water and mud.

Pacific Golden Plovers

There is a glorious innocent beauty to the Pacific Golden Plovers. I note that they like to congregate in a large group. A joy to spot with their heads poking above the grasses. The seem to be good friends with the Curlew Sandpipers who were never far away.

Forest Therapy Mary Bell- Pacific Golden Ploversed Godwit
Pacific Golden Plovers amongst the saltmarshes

Curlew Sandpipers

The Curlew Sandpipers migrate from Alaska and Siberia and are critically endangered nationally. They breed in the lowland tundra of Siberia.

Curlew Sandpipers
Curlew Sandpipers amongst the saltmarsh at the Stockton Sandspit

Soldier crabs

Forest Therapy Mary Bell- soldier crab
Soldier Crabs move quickly amongst the saltmarshes

These delightful crabs – seemed to be in large numbers and are a great food source for the migratory birds of this location. They are wonderful to watch in motion.

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