Monday, August 19, 2013

Common Ringed Plover

 Driving to Renews, I thought what are my chances that I am going to be able to pick out this rare little shorebird among all of the
Semipalmated Plovers. I reflected on how difficult it was going to be to find "Waldo" amidst all of the crawling movement on the beach.
 Oh well, it was worth a try! I always take too many pictures when I go shore birding. Often by enlarging the picture I can better see the bird than with the binoculars. That happened when I went to see the Red Knot. This time, I kept the pictures to a minimum taking less than 20 shots and most of them of the Common Ringed Plover. It really is like finding a needle in a haystack. The saving circumstances is that the haystack was relatively small this time.

 I ran into Dave S. and Clyde T. when I arrived at Renews beach on Saturday. They gave me two bits of information that helped in the search: The bird was immature and the back was paler than the Semipalmated Plovers.
 The truth is there weren't that many plovers on the beach, probably less than a dozen. By eliminating all of the birds with color on their beak (adults), I was able to pay more attention to birds with dark beaks. (Turns out the bird is an adult female.) Anyway, the tip led me in the right direction.
 There were other plovers there with a wide band, so I focused on finding one with a wide band AND a pale back. Once I enlarged a couple of pictures, I saw the long white supercilium. The other plovers didn't have that. I felt pretty confident this was the bird, so I followed it around the beach. That wasn't easy. It moved a lot! Every time I would switch between my binoculars and camera, I would lose it.
 Reading an article by Dave Brown after I returned home, I also learned the back of the Common Ringed Plover is more scaled than the Semi. That is also a helpful field mark to zero in on this bird.
 I followed the Common Ringed Plover around the beach and the look-out area as the tide came in. Finally, I was able to get a look at the feet! That was the deciding factor: No webbing meant I had, indeed, found the bird!
This shot of a Semipalmated Plover shows the absence of the supercilium, and a colorful beak. However, from a distance, in torturous lighting and the constant movement of the birds, it is very hard to find THE ONE. I was pretty pleased with adding one more bird to my Life List.

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