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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finally: shorebirds!

The sun was shining today, and after being in the office all afternoon, I just stopped at home for a quick snack before heading down to the south end of the island to do some bird-watching. For the last few weeks I have been searching the beaches for migrating shorebirds, and with the exception of the day I found three black-bellied plovers and three sanderlings at South Beach, I haven't seen much. Today, I finally found what I was looking for: a flock of about 25 western sandpipers (153)! It's always amazing to me when a bird, especially such a small one, doesn't mind my presence and just goes about its business while I sit just a few yards away.

With them were another three black-bellied plovers, which I was very excited about. This time I got a chance to snap a few photos. The black "wing pits" visible in flight are one field mark that distinguish the black-bellied from other similar plover species:

While the shorebirds were what I went looking for, there was a lot of other bird life around as well. A pair of black oystercatchers chased each other around the bay over the heads of a few small flocks of remaining bufflehead and surf scoters. A bald eagle flew through, flushing all the glaucous-winged gulls off the beach. In the lagoon were a pair of mallards and the summer resident northern rough-winged swallows.

The woodlands between the beach and parking area were active as well. I heard red-breasted nuthatches, a warbling vireo, several orange-crowned warblers, and a Bewick's wren. A flock of bushtits was intermixed with a few foraging chestnut-backed chickadees. A pair of downy woodpeckers flew from tree to tree, while some golden-crowned and white-crowned sparrows foraged in the grass. In total, I saw and heard 32 species, not bad for the hour or so I spent there!

Before heading home I decided to stop by the den where I saw and photographed the baby foxes last spring. There seemed to be just one kit there, and he/she was much shyer than the foxes I saw last year, as I got the chance to snap just one quick photo before it disappeared down into the den. I was patiently waiting for it to re-emerge when I was surprised to see it peering at me from another entrance to the tunnel, further away. But as soon as I lifted my camera, it was back underground in a flash.

While the sun was back out, the winds were still blowing, and my last photo of the day was of this savannah sparrow, fluffed up against the breeze:

1 comment:

Vera said...

Great posting and photos.