Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shorebirds Make Me Sore...a!

Another visit to Sandy Ridge
September 12 2010
(Sorry in advance for poor photo quality; it was early in the morning and the lighting was not the best)

So, less than 24 hours and I'm back at SRR! Why? My grandparents were going to call me up and invite me to come with them to SRR this morning. Which is exactly why I called them! What are the chances? So, at around 8am we arrived. Ironically, while I was explaining about the little Red-tail from yesterday, he flew by our car! (No photos this time, though.)

After encountering a trio of beautiful deer (my Totem animal, if you didn't already know), the Bald Eagle flew by. In the exact same spot as yesterday! Again, what are the chances? The Cormorant, too, was sitting where I left him...hmm...what's with the birds and their coincidences?

Although the light was still clouded over this early in the morning, I was able to get a few shots of the Lesser Yellowlegs (I'm really beginning to love these birds) foraging:

Also, a small peep... I think it's a Semipalmated...? Any help? Shorebirds really aren't my strong point. I need some practice... the more I get to Sandy Ridge, the better I'll become at identifying sandpipers, I believe. For now, however, any advice will be appreciated!

When my grandma pointed out a "salt and pepper bird", I was looking at a nearby Yellowlegs. I told her as much and took a few photos.Moving up along the trail to a patch of marsh grass, another trail-goer suddenly pointed out a Sora!! Of course, everyone but I saw it disappear into the grass. It was then that my grandma told me, "That's the salt and pepper bird!" I could have had a full view of it earlier! Aaargh! I ended up going back 3 times to look fruitlessly for the uncommon bird. Darn! Another one slipping through my fingers! (This has happened before with other species...)

Oh well...we birders have to learn the hard way about letting things go.
On to the next birds... We reached the overlook, where the usual Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Egrets, Mallards, and Teals were foraging. I noticed a flit of brown and yellow next to me and looked away from my binos. A little warbler was perched right next to my grandpa, who was looking through his binos and didn't hear me in time! "Warbler, warbler!" but he looked away after the little girl had flown off. I tracked her with my camera as she flitted around in the flowers and before I knew it, she came close. I got one heck of a shot, one I'm planning to enter in a photo contest (North Chagrin Nature Photography Contest/Show). Since I don't want to publish the entry photo here, I'll show you a shot taken a few seconds later.

I'm thinking this is an immature fall Palm Warbler. Something sure to ID this bird is its bright yellow undertail coverts. It also sports some dusky brown streaking on its breast and sides, a faint darker eyestripe, off-white eye rings broken on each side... Here's a few more shots in case anyone wants to help confirm this ID:

(Scratch that itch!)

(Back off!)

I then sighted (rather, glimpsed) what I thought to be a Hooded or Wilson's female. Plus, some singing sparrows! We travelled along the trail to the other side of the marsh, were a Greater Yellowlegs was to be found:

A trio of noisy Belted Kingfishers were busy flapping from branch to branch, and I even saw one dive for a fish. I hadn't seen a Kingfisher since 2009 so this was a pretty fun sighting. I never realized Kingfishers were as small as they are, though!
A beautiful sleeping GBH was pointed out to me by my grandparents, and it made for a serene photo.

Of course a marsh wouldn't be complete without swallows, and a large colony of the lovable Northern-Rough-Winged variety preened silently in the dead trees. Next, while looking at a rather peculiar coloured duck (a Mallard, but pale on the body with light brown/tan accents. Maybe leucistic?) I scanned to the right with my binos and sighted a very still Green Heron. Love those guys!

Finally, on my last try on sighting that sora (Which of course never showed) , I saw some more Yellowlegs...invasion of the some more sandpipers. I know I'll be better at identifying them in the future, but for right now they make my eyes sore! (Just like my legs were at the end of this long walk!) As we went back into the woods, we sighted the trio of deer, and that cormorant again...sunning his wings...

(Pectoral Sandpipers? Please help...thank you!)

(Aaah catching those rays!)

Signing off this time with a tribute to my friend Dave whose advice and compliments are much appreciated! Visit his blog and you'll understand why I'm leaving you with this...:

~Until next time,


Dave said...

Most excellent booty shot Kristina!
It's so nice to know I have such an odd rep worldwide...

bpadgett said...

nice work, Kristina! Looking forward to seeing more.

Ben Warner said...

enjoyed your post. And I'd like to confirm your identifications: yes that is a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, that is a Palm Warbler (though it is impossible to tell age in this sp. from a photo), and yes those are Pectoral Sandpipers (as you could tell from those pectorally oriented brown streaks). Cheers.