Monday, September 22, 2008

Hurricane birds

The idea of hurricane-related birds certainly brings exciting thoughts of gulf coast vagrants appearing on the beach or some inland lake.  While the pelicans from earlier in the summer will likely be the most exciting hurricane-related bird I'm going to find for a while, my Bigby list has benefited with some considerably more common species.  I've been lamenting the lack of shorebird habitat for weeks, and the flooding that the remnants of Ike left (about 6-8 inches of rain here over 2 days) suddenly has refurbished the habitat.  

The other day before going to work I discovered the golden plover below at the Anna Lane flooding, about 2 miles from my house.  It was still there after work so I biked out after it, and after a few anxious moments found the bird standing still peering back at me.

On Friday on the way to Floral Lane I biked past Linco and Scottdale when I found Marquette Woods Rd impassable on a bike secondary to water across the road!  I could see in the pre-dawn that there was a decent wet area well-attended by killdeer and knew I'd have to come back the same way.  When I arrived there in the afternoon, another golden plover quickly appeared, this one a moulting adult retaining some of the black belly as well as some black outlines to the face and some gold-spangled back feathers.  The primaries were worn to dull brown.  Scanning back across a pale calidrid ran into view, a juvie stilt sandpiper moulting into winter plumage!  I'd practically given up on finding a stilt sandpiper since they're a relatively early migrant; I'm sure this is the latest I've seen one (though if Pt Mouillee was open in September that might be different).  Suddenly I have hopes of still finding a dowitcher for the Bigby year as well.  White-rumped sandpiper should be much easier if the water holds.  A snipe was present as well, one of a half-dozen easy species that I was still missing (and was starting to worry about).  Pecs, leasts, a Baird's, and some yellowlegs rounded out the shorebirds there.

The stilt sandpiper and snipe brought me to 216 for the Bigby year.

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