Friday, April 11, 2008

2 New Shorebirds

This evening I walked from the new hike-and-bike trail footbridge downstream almost to the Parmer Lane bridge. On the T&C playing fields I found this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher perched near a flock of about 10 Lark Sparrows. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers will soon be a common sight for the summer, but I usually only get a handful of Lark Sparrow sightings per year in the neighborhood. They are one of the more dramatically colored native sparrows, with their white, chestnut, and black facial pattern.

Near the downstream edge of the playing fields there was a large group of shorebirds including about 55 Least Sandpiper, 8 Solitary Sandpiper, 2 Killdeer, and a few Blue-winged Teal. I was excited to find 4 Pectoral Sandpipers as well, a new bird I haven't seen yet this year. I got this picture of 3 of them. From there I continued downstream to the patch of marsh near the Parmer Lane bridge and stayed there until sundown. On my way back I saw a single Solitary Sandpiper on the creek and another sandpiper I couldn't immediately identify nearby. It was almost as big as the Solitary and had dark legs and almost a buffy cast. The wings were slightly longer than the tail. I took some notes on its appearance. When I got back home I verified my guess that it was a Baird's Sandpiper. I've never seen one of these in the neighborhood before. Both the Baird's and the Pectorals are long traveling migrants. They winter in South America as far south as Tiera Del Fuego, and they breed in the arctic. It's neat to know that a few are using our creek on their journey.

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