Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ruddy Turnstone - Summer 2011

Last Sunday on a day that wasn't fit for man nor bird, I joined Catherine Barrett for a trip to Bellevue Beach in pursuit of the Pacific Golden Plover. This very rare bird was not to be seen from shore so we parked and fought the elements as we walked the trail and ultimately the tall grassy area next to the beach.
The rain, drizzle, fog and high winds made it difficult enough but that was all compounded by the salt spray that blew in off the water. Binoculars and camera were tucked into our coats and under our arms in an effort to protect them. It was impossible to see anything through either the camera or the bino because the spray blurred everything. It is no wonder we were the only ones on the beach!

The first shore bird that we came across was the Ruddy Turnstone. This is one of the most easily identifiable shorebirds. So many shore birds look similar and it is not easy to approach them to get an ID as they lift off and move some distance away.

Even in the bad conditions the Ruddy Turnstone is a stand out, especially when it takes flight. Its rusty, black and white pattern "pop" even amid all of the spray.

We were unsuccessful at Bellevue with our target bird, the Pacific Golden Plover, but we had plenty to keep us entertained.

Yesterday afternoon, I passed by Spaniard's Bay at just the right time. The low tide had exposed plenty of insects, mollusks and crustaceans. The Ruddy Turnstone will turn over stone to find morsels underneath, hence its name.

The Ruddy Turnstone breeds on the tundra and passes through Newfoundland during migration.  It is hard to think of Fall Migration already, but there are clear signs that it is rapidly approaching.

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