Monday, August 21, 2017

Stilt Sandpiper

 When word came Saturday morning of a Stilt Sandpiper in Renews, I did something I haven't done in a while: Spontaneously join a group for a quick trip down the shore. It helped that I was pretty bored and wondering what to do.

When we arrived, the Stilt Sandpiper was with a large group of Yellowlegs. It was not that easy to pick it out and took some time watching closely as the birds were knee-deep in water.
 Finally, we isolated the Stilt and began our learning experience as none of us had ever seen one before.
 The stilt moved around a bit and disappeared for a short while. Taking flight, the bird provided an opportunity to see its tail feathers and wing pattern.
 Then, it flew back into the crowd. This shot shows the long legs of this bird very well.
 We had satisfying looks at the Stilt in Renews, but it was Cape Broyle that provided the best opportunity for viewing. We did not expect to see another Stilt, two in one day, but we came upon a bird different from the rest. After some pondering and consultation, it was decided we had found our own Stilt Sandpiper.
 This bird also moved around the mud flats a lot. It walked around quite a bit moving near and far. It also took several short flights around the area.
 We were so close at times we got really acquainted with Still #2.

 There were times when the bird looked a little awkward on its stilts, and there were times when it struck a rather stately pose. It is a handsome bird.
 Abandoning the mud flats, it flew into the shoreline of the back pond in Cape Broyle. There, the lighting was much more authentic and showed its coloring and markings as well as its true leg color much better than in the glare on the water.
 As it quickly probed for food, it presented a profile often mentioned in guidebooks with its tail raised high.
 For comparison, this photo shows the different tail pattern of the Short-billed Dowitcher. The Stilt has only a narrow band of color at the tip of its tail while the dowitcher's tail has more extensive markings.
 Note the size difference between the Stilt Sandpiper and a Greater Yellowlegs.
 Lesser than Yellowlegs, but greater than this little Semipalmated Sandpiper, the two share dining digs. All in all, the sudden decision to make the trip was extremely fruitful and enjoyable. Who knows when a Stilt Sandpiper will show up in our area again.
Always ready to bird just a little more, I stopped by the field noted by Bruce in Goulds. Late on Saturday afternoon, there were 26 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 White-rumped Sandpipers and 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers. It is likely this flock will grow.

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