Evan was sitting at lifer #196 when we decided to check out some local sewage treatment ponds. The ponds were definitely active with lots of Canada Geese and migrating Franklin's Gulls, but I wasn't seeing anything new or out of the ordinary.
Finally, though, as I scanned the pond, I saw a small shorebird quickly moving back and forth and in circles. It appeared to be a phalarope of some sort. Not knowing my shorebirds real well, I took several photos to be able to identify the bird later. It turned out to be the Red-necked Phalarope! This was a good bird for our area and lifer #197 for Evan.
Not long after our encounter with the Red-necked Phalarope, we were driving home from a family trip when I spied a large pond with exposed banks. It looked ripe for shorebirds. I couldn't see anything when I cruised by, but after stopping and searching more carefully I found about a dozen Pectoral Sandpipers. Life bird #198.
With only two birds left to get to the big number, we were anxious to get out some more to find a couple of new birds. We didn't have to wait long because a couple days later one of my birding friends called me saying he had found a few Buff-breasted Sandpipers in a field just a few miles from our town. At the time I didn't realize that this was a significant find, but I should have been clued in because another birder friend left work early to go see these sandpipers. I later discovered that the last time these birds had been seen in our county was over a decade ago.
We went out to the location which was a muddy area with a few puddles surrounded by grass.
|Evan watching the shorebird activity|
There were a lot of shorebirds. We saw dozens of Killdeer which is a common summer resident in our area. Additionally we saw Pectoral Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers, but we didn't see the Buff-breasted Sandpipers.
It was an impressive #200 for Evan's list. Without Ron's experienced eyes, we never would have found it. As Ron said, when the bird stops moving in the brown grass, it is very hard to see. In fact, there is one pictured below if you can believe it.
|Can you find the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in this photo?|
Josh Wallestad writes about his birding adventures with his 6-year-old son, Evan, at A Boy Who Cried Heron.