Sunday, July 27, 2014

Least Sandpipers

I spent some time on Lake Creek Trail yesterday early afternoon counting dragonflies, and hoping to see a Couch's Kingbird that Barry Noret found there that morning. I missed the kingbird but enjoyed finding 18 species of dragonflies. (I posted a few photos here.) Dragonflies are a new interest of mine, and I've been enjoying learning how to identify them and being able to contribute to the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership's Pond Watch citizen science project. Despite primarily observing dragonflies, I kept a bird list too which ended up with 27 species.

I was most excited to find a group of 32 Least Sandpipers on the creek in the middle of Town and Country playing fields. These tiny migratory shorebirds breed in Alaska and northern Canada, but they can be found in the Austin area during every month of the year! Why is that? The northern edge of their winter range includes most of Texas, so many make the Austin area (including our little creek) their winter home. And the population is so wide-ranging that shortly after the last spring migrants move through central Texas in mid-June, early south-bound migrants begin to appear in early July. The birds I saw yesterday were some of these early south-bound migrants. Here are a few of them:

Least Sandpipers

In my early days of birding I was amazed that sandpipers could be found in Austin. It continues to amaze me that our neighborhood creek is so important to many of them as a winter home and a migration rest-stop.

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