Every once in a while I plan a day of responsible activities. We all should do that sometimes. On such a day last week I got up, prepared my coffee and settled in to check my e-mail and the latest Discussion Group reports. Within minutes, my chores didn't seem so important any more and I found myself preparing to go out in search of this American Avocet. This great bird was found and reported by Dave Hawkins in the Clarke's Beach area. This is the second rare bird that he has found in this region of the Avalon this summer. Perhaps this area has been "under-birded."
Anyway, there is no guarantee that when you travel to see a bird that it will still be in the area where it was located. With two other birders in the car, we started our hopeful drive. Arriving around 10:30 a.m. we pulled up to the beach and saw no sign of our target bird. We then relocated to another road that would give us a better view of the beach. There it was - large as life but quite a distance away. Even binoculars didn't provide a good look. Nevertheless, we were all pretty excited.
I started taking some record shots with my camera and while I was looking through the viewfinder, much to my surprise, the Avocet lifted off and flew straight toward us. I was shooting its every move. It landed in the water just in front of us. How lucky can you get?
I have never seen an American Avocet before and here it was just feet away in its Summer plumage. Typically, this is a Western bird but there are regular, occasional visits to the Atlantic Provinces. (It would be really great to have access to the historical records of all rare birds that come our way.) I think this may be the fourth recorded visit of an American Avocet to Newfoundland.
It less than a minute this Avocet probably realized that it had company close by and it got skittish and lifted off. It flew into a nearby cove where it stayed for just moments before lifting off again and giving us one more fly-by before it soared high and far over the tree tops in the distance and disappeared.
When I finally lowered my camera, I spotted a woman sitting on the beach near the spot where we originally located the bird. Clearly, this is what flushed the bird and sent it straight toward us. What a great stroke of luck! Apparently, the American Avocet was seen for about three days, off and on. It seemed to return to this location late in the evening and take off for places unknown by mid-morning. It has not been seen for several days now and may well be gone.
Strangely enough, I was home early enough to get all my chores done and enjoy the satisfaction of having seen this wonderful Western visitor.
This is my eighth post over the last month covering shorebirds. I have several more yet to come.