Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short-billed Dowitcher

Bellevue Beach is a veritable hot spot for shore birds. On Saturday another birder and I decided to check it out. For me, the Short-billed Dowitcher was the target bird. I had never seen one before and I must have wanted to really badly because I felt like I hiked to Timbuktu to get there.

All along the beach there was no sign of any shorebirds and the longer we walked the farther away the mussel bed seemed to be. Nevertheless, it was not nearly as bad as the rainy, blustery day that we went in July.
 Alas, I rounded the last bend in the beach and with the low tide, I could see steady movement on the flat. The flood of relief and excitement replaced the exhaustion of the walk and I was ready for birding.

The first birds that I saw were two Short-billed Dowitchers feeding in a low pool of water. Of course, I was looking into the sun so I had to remedy that. Onto the mussel bed I went. With the sound of mussel shells crunching under my feet, I had to move so slowly so as not to flush the birds.
 At last I got the sun behind me and could get great looks at these two golden brown birds.

These birds are uncommon to Newfoundland but have been spotted in the Spring, Summer and Fall. These two seemed to still be in their breeding plumage as I understand that in the Winter they become gray.
They were quite calm and did not flush at my presence. I took several pictures of them and then began scanning the large area that was teeming with other shorebirds. There were so many I hardly knew where to begin. Needless to say, I have many pictures from the day and will be posting them as I can.
I was very lucky to see these birds so quickly and so well, because sometime while I was looking at other birds, they moved and I never saw them again.

This would have been a great spot to pitch a tent and study the birds and their movement as the tides moved in an out....not to mention an air mattress would have been a welcome sight after they long, hot trek to the flats.

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