Today started some what drier and brighter than yesterday and again I headed out to the area of mudflats in zone c. I planned to walk out through the area of spartina grass, watch the rising tide, sit out the high tide on the raft (photo above & below) and then I would be able to be on site as the tide begins to retreat. I discovered this raft yesterday and decided I would use this during the high tide.
Upon arrival at the mudflats I was amazed how fast the tide was coming in, it was not a tidal bore but this is the fastest I have ever witnessed an incoming tide. The birds were pouring in real fast but they was hesitant to even roost up on the mudflats, obviously the tide during the night was enough to flush them off and in to the salt pans. (Night tides are always higher than day tides due to the gravitational pull on the earth from the moon)
Great knots, barwits, dunlins, red necked stints, sandplovers all just flew in land in the direction of the saltpans. before I knew it the incoming water was at my knees and I retreated quickly to the safety of the raft. Luckily I had pre-planned to use / share this raft with it's owner (photo below). Yesterday, upon my return to the seawall I bumped in to this local shell fisherman who gave me a light for my cigarette as mine had packed up due to being totally soaked through, as well as everything else. Even though I speak no Chinese & the guy spoke no English I managed to point at the raft and then point at myself and then did a half circle sign (meaning next day) and he kind of got the picture and nodded as if to agree.
I actually thought I had the raft to myself for this tide until its rightful owner appeared (photo above). The water level in this photo was nearly 2 hours prior to the high tide. As he boarded we sat there sharing the raft, both watching the waves roll in over the open area of mudflats, we had a few cigarettes and at one point we both fell asleep as we lay there bobbing up and down as the waves came in. At one point I imagined the rope becoming loose and that we would be lost to sea for ever or something worse like a tsunami striking.
As the tide was at it's highest we could see other local shell fishermen sitting out the high tide on make-shift wooden structures, they just sat there also staring at the incoming waves.
It was nearly 4 hours on that raft but as the tide retreated and the first areas of exposed mud become visible I began my walk out to get in to position. Today, though, the birds just did not return to feed in the same area of mudflats, hardly any great knot or barwits, well compared to yesterday, the numbers were well down. The dunlin and the stints were the same and I wondered if the birds went to feed at another area of mudflats and was this routine with such high tides. Then I picked up a couple of spoon billed sandpipers making there way in my direction. I sat and waited and watched and I only managed to count 14 spoon billed sandpipers today, down on yesterday. This consisted of 9 adults and 5 1st summers. The birds were feeding faster today and also went out on to the mudflats further out but I think this also partly due to the fact that there were several fisherman on site today repairing nets. As I walked back through the area of spartina grass and up on to the seawall I was surprised at the amount of passerines that were present. Red flanked bluetails, sib stonechats, mugimaki flycatchers and siberian blue robins ( stunning! by far the pick of the bunch). As I arrived at the area by the seawall the few trees present held eastern crowned, pallas's and yellow browed warblers. There had obviously been a large fall today and I cursed that my SLR was on the table drying out, this was the day it would have been worth having !