Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pt. Mouillee Shorebirds - 14 Jul 2016

The past few days have brought a brief respite of thunderstorms that (hopefully) are replenishing a bit of the water that we've been losing w/ the recent drought. This evening I rode out to Cell 3 of the Banana Unit at Point Mouillee SGA to check on shorebirds.

When I arrived I found that greenery is quickly filling in the dried cell. Luckily, there is still water in the middle of Cell 3 and, despite the recent rains, the ground is still cracked (but now wet and cracked). A quick scan of the open water revealed tons of shorebirds and gulls!

I shimmied down the bank using my tripod as a stabilizer, and hiked along the edge of the vegetation toward the north end of the cell. One, it kept the sun to my back, but more importantly, it kept me from sinking in the mud and spooking the shorebirds.

Spotted Sandpipers were working the dried mud bottoms in numbers I've never seen before. At least two dozen birds were scattered ahead of me. Least Sandpipers numbered in the dozens.

Lesser Yellowlegs number in the hundreds, and were foraging among dozens of Short-billed Dowitchers in the open water. "Gulls" were packed in their usual spot along the east shoreline at the south end of the still-exposed mudflats: Forster's Terns, Common Terns, Caspian Terns, Ring-billed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls. A pair of Black Terns were a nice find!

I quickly scanned the open water and found the American Avocet still present.  I managed some digiscoped images from over 100' away, but it soon disappeared when I turned my attention on a half-dozen Stilt Sandpipers nearby.

The Stilt Sandpipers were fairly cooperative today. I had the 20-75X Zoom Eyepiece on the Zeiss 85T*Fl, so I was able to do a bit more zoom-digiscoping w/ the Sony a6300 and 30mm f/2.8 Sigma.

The Short-billed Dowitchers were my next targets and also were very cooperative.

A lone Bonaparte's Gull was foraging at the north end of the cell, and I watched in fascination as it stirred up the water with its "dancing feet" in order to bring worms and bugs to the surface. "She's a maniac, maniac on the floor" kept going through my head. Check out the video below:

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