Monday, September 10, 2012

Forest Pond Ruff

With shorebirds as scarce as they are this year, it is quite remarkable to find a Pectoral Sandpiper, a Hudsonian Godwit and a Ruff all within a square foot of each other, pure enchantment for a watcher like me. I don't know what is happening at Forest Pond, or Goulds for that matter, but the migrating shorebirds are turning up there when they are not in the places they are expected to be.
Despite the warm, dry summer we have had, the ponds seem high. Only at Forest Pond are there a few exposed rocks. While the water in this area is somewhat shallow, aside from the yellowlegs, I haven't seen these special visitors eating in the area.
Getting to see this bird was really unexpected.  Late Thursday morning, I stopped my Forest Pond to have another look at the Hudsonian Godwit.  When I arrived two other birders were there staring at a new bird.  The identification was not yet made.  I was able to get these shots of a tired bird with greenish/yellow legs. We were pondering what it might be: A Red Knot? A Ruff?  Unsure, I sent the photos to Dave Brown who graciously, yet again, made the ID. A Ruff was in the neighborhood.
On Sunday afternoon, I dropped by Forest Pond to check on the Ruff (and maybe be surprised by another rare bird.) The Ruff was in the location but the Godwit and the Pectoral Sandpipers weren't there.
The Ruff looked like it had a make-over from the three days before.  It was alert, bright-eyed, and upright.  It is amazing what a few good days of rest can do for you. This was a really good opportunity to see this bird pretty close.
The Ruff doesn't even appear in many North American bird guides as it breeds in Eurasia and winters in Africa. Nevertheless, it is a rare, but regular visitor to the North American east coast during migration.  For the last two consecutive years, we have been lucky to have a Ruff drop into Goulds.

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