Monday, August 30, 2010

Shorebirds

Late last week I got over to the Massachusetts coast for some shorebirding. Consistent with my experience the last few years, the best place is not the refuge, but Sandy Point State Park at the end of the refuge road. On the ever-changing sand bars and mud flats of the estuary, and the wide sandy beach, shore birds congregate at high tide - some to feed in the shallows and some to roost and rest. I spent a couple of hours in the late morning as the tide was coming in.

Piping Plover is an endangered species, but the Massachusetts coast hosts more breeding pairs than anywhere else. Most people get very excited to see this rare plover. I am almost embarrassed to say that I expect to see it at Sandy Point. This juvenile demonstrates the continued protection and good management by Massachusetts of the Piping Plover's nesting sites ...

Piping Plover - juvenile
 Sanderlings are "true" sandpipers, chasing the waves along sandy beaches (as opposed to most sandpipers that are really "mudpipers"). I think these two are in transition from breeding to non-breeding plumage ...

Sanderlings

I would love to have someone tell me that this is a Ringed Plover, but until that unlikely event, this will be a male Semipalmated Plover ...

Semipalmated Plover - male
On a broad and debris littered beach, roosting shorebirds may be present in huge numbers, and may also be overlooked as they blend into the background ...

Roosting Shorebirds - plovers & sandpipers
Peeps are pips to identify, so I was pleased  when I picked out the White-rumped Sandpipers. This photo has the plus-factor of comparing size. The White-rumped, at 7.5," is noticeably larger than the nearby Semipalmated Sandpiper or Semipalmated Plover. Note the streaked flanks ...

White-rumped Sandpiper with Semipalmated Sandpiper (left foreground) and Semipalmated Plover (left background)
Semipalmated Sandpipers resting and preening ...

Semipalmated Sandpipers
Good birding!

7 comments:

Chris said...

Wow that's very impressive, especially this large view of the plovers. i love the first shot of the piping plover, but you got a lot to see there... Lucky you, I'm entering the emptiness ,-)

Hilke Breder said...

I brought back a photo of a Common Ringed Plover from Germany and the only way I could tell the difference from a Semipalmated one was by zooming in on the feet to show absence of webs except between middle and outer toe.
Nice photos! Makes me want to take another trip there.

Boccone Claire said...

Superbes photos!!Bravo!
AmitiƩs de France:CLAIRE

jen said...

Nice! I can barely tell my shorebirds apart with five different field guides open around me!

eileeninmd said...

Great shots, Chris! I just love the shorebirds. You got some awesome photos. The Piping plovers are just adorable. BTW, I love your header shot of the warblers. Very pretty birds.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Chris, your pictures are, as always, amazing. I feel like I am right there looking at the Piping Plover. It's a very rare bird here in the mid-Atlantic. Lisa and I have seen it once at Cape May and once in Delaware.

Shorebird ID is hard, but rewarding. For me, raptors are the most difficult and frustrating- we can study shorebirds. Raptors usually soar or dive by!

Our best
Warren an Lisa

The Early Birder said...

Hi Chris. You're hoping for a Ringed Plover and I'd be delighted to see a Semipalmated ... never satisfied, are we?
I'm envious of your trip to the shoreline .. masses of waders to sort through .. what could be more fun. I'll have to stop chasing flutters and head south again very soon. FAB.

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