Sunday, August 25, 2013

More Shorebirds! - 21 Aug 2013

With sunny skies and exposed mudflats continuing in Cell 3 of Pt. Mouillee I made another couple afternoon visits.

Wednesday afternoon got started with a Black-bellied Plover in the NE corner of the Humphries Unit.  The molting bird was mostly backlit and in the shadows, but I managed a couple pics of it spreading its wings and showing its diagnostic black armpits.

I then spent a little bit of time in Cell 3 digiscoping the Semipalmated Sandpipers that were foraging and fighting along the near shore in the SW corner.  I love their little 'machine-gun' calls...

Again, note the black back feathers with gray-brown fringing that give the bird an overall 'gray-black' appearance.  This individual is a juvenile based on the white fringing on the back feathers.  The short, stubby bill is also diagnostic. On shore things are more difficult because Semipalms can look alot like Baird's Sandpipers.  Note, however, the thin necklace on the individual in the second image, below.  Too thin to be a Bairds.  The third image shows an individual with a thicker necklace, but its a darker brown and smudgy, like the individual in the fourth image, below.  Bills on these individuals are short and stubby while the Baird's would show a longer, straighter bill.

Lesser Yellowlegs were abundant, and close by.  This individual shows spotting on the wings much like  a Solitary Sandpiper.  However, the spots are more triangular, whereas a Solitary would show circular spots and greener legs.  This individual also lacks a 'distinct' eye-ring.

Short-billed Dowitchers were plenty abundant, as well, with most individuals of the juvenile stage. Note the relatively fresh feathers on the back and the overall smudgy look to the chest and belly.

The juvenile on the left is feeding next to an adult on the right, which shows worn flight feathers, but is not actively molting.

The White-rumped Sandpiper was refund - foraging next to the dredge pipe, but was extremely shy this evening, staying close to the vegetation along the near shore and wandering out to open mud for moments at a time.  Note the fine streaking on chest and back and uniform gray-brown feathering.  A touch of red can still be seen on the cheeks and crown, along with the distinct supercillium.  Once completely molted it will be the grayest of the peeps.

This evening I would count 7 Wilson's Phalaropes, with all of the birds located toward the extreme south end of unit or far out on the mud flats.  I counted several birds running around on the mud with the Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers.  A couple birds were close enough to digiscope.  The clean white underside and proportionately-small head are always telltale signs of these birds.

Stilt Sandpipers were also abundant, with several individuals close to the south bank where I was standing. This individual was preening close to one of the phalaropes and also 'voiced' its displeasure with a poop-shoot...

Only 1 American Avocet was seen this evening, but it was far out on the edge of the mudflat and only record images were digiscoped.  A report of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper could not be confirmed this evening.

As the sun began to set to the SW and clouds moved in I started heading back, stopping long enough to digiscope a pair of Yellow Warblers in the last bit of sunlight.

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