Sunday, May 16, 2010

European Golden Plover

What an adventure! For a week now, I have been hunting the European Golden Plover. Yesterday, I drove around the fields in Goulds for several hours and finally, gave up.

Then, after supper, I looked on the Discussion Group postings and there was the location! I was going to go have a quick look and then go somewhere else. That's not quite the way it turned out.

The location was in a farm yard, and I had chosen not to drive there earlier. This time, there was a car already in the lane, so I decided to follow it in. I didn't want to block the other birder if he wanted to leave so I pulled off the main path.

After several minutes of scanning the field, I was alerted by the other couple that the birds were in the field. My daughter and I focused the binos and at last, we saw the European Golden Plovers. They were about 50 yards away, and I knew that I wasn't going to get any good pictures. Nevertheless, I took what I could.

Not wanting to disturb the other birders too much, I decided that I would leave the photographing to them. I got in the car and started to back up, but that didn't happen! I felt the tires spin and the car sink. I got out to have a look only to find that I had buried my front tires in mud - what a mess!
Thank goodness, I wasn't there alone. The gentleman in the other car studied my situation. I could tell he didn't think it was good. He had a tow line and was going to pull me out. He looked all over the underneath of my car and couldn't find a single place to hook up. Uh oh! He didn't give up. He walked over to a pile of trash that was about 30 feet from us and came back with a piece of old carpet. He had a knife (which I will buy right away) and cut the carpet into pieces to go under the front tires. Great idea but the carpet just became mired in mud and didn't do the job. I should mention that by now, we were all covered in mud! He then had the idea to reverse the carpet, putting the jute side up. We did that and cut more strips to create a longer path. He drove and my daughter and I pushed and slowly he backed the car out onto the path. He was so kind, and I was very grateful.

I was so afraid that all of our commotion had scared these tiny birds away, but no - they were still there. I was so glad. I hope he got some great pictures.
Why all this trouble just to see the European Golden Plover? Well, it is quite rare in North America. This bird doesn't even appear in North American field guides. It breeds in Greenland, Iceland or Siberia. It winters in Europe, North Africa or the Middle East but occasionally, it will get caught up in the winds and find itself in Labrador or Newfoundland. While this does not happen every year, it did happen this year. There have been about 50 European Golden Plovers spotted during this Spring but only six in the St. John's area. These three seem to be all that remain. If I missed them, I may not have a chance again. These record shots document my 80th species sighting in 2010, and I am very happy to have them. If you would like to see better pictures and learn more about this bird, visit

I must go now - there is a report of two male Northern Shovelers in Goulds. I don't have any pictures of them - yet.

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