Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hudsonian Godwit - 14 Aug 2008

Having worked late last night I decided to make a quick run to Pt. Mouillee before heading in this morning. Karl Overman reported yesterday a Marbled Godwit, Hudsonian Godwit, White Pelican and Wilson's Phalarope at the Moo, and I was itching to see if I could see and/or digiscope any of the birds.

Parking at Mouillee Creek entrance I headed up the Middle Causeway toward the Banana Unit. Earth moving equipment was parked in the path between the Long Pond and Lead Units, and it appeared that they were putting in a new road along the west side of the Long Pond. The sunrise was spectacular: a bright red orb nestled in between clouds and the horizon. It was a bit overcast but some clear skies were present. As I rode past the Vermet Unit I heard, then saw, one of the Black-necked Stilts. I dipped on the Marbled Godwit, which was roosting yesterday on the sand spit w/ the Caspian Terns and Great Egrets. I also did not see the White Pelican, which was in Cell 4.
Arriving at Cell 3 I walked down to the mud line and began scoping the hundreds of shorebirds.
I quickly found the Hudsonian Godwit approximately 100 yds away along the water's edge, and soon found the Wilson's Phalarope feeding closer in a small pool in the middle of the mud spit.

Several Black-bellied Plovers were running about and 'kee-r-wii' ing far out of digiscoping range. Numerous Pectoral, Least, Semipalmated and Stilt Sandpipers were all around me, and from their relative tameness I could guess that they were mostly juveniles.
I took some time to digiscope and photograph several Least Sandpipers in the pool to my right.

Several Pectoral Sandpipers made nice subjects, as did several Lesser Yellowlegs. The Yellowlegs were juveniles as evidence by the white spotting on the wings and relatively fresh plumage. Adults were farther out and already molting into their winter grays.

I lucked out a few minutes later when a Stilt Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage appeared a few feet away and allowed several nice close-ups. Immature Short-billed Dowitchers were also present with their overall brownish wash.

At one point an immature Bald Eagle flew overhead and flushed the shorebird flocks. I quickly fired off numerous shots w/ the D300 and managed to grab the Hudsonian Godwit as it passed by at a distance. While reviewing the images I found a couple of Long-billed Dowitchers with it. They are the birds showing missing primaries, and since the Short-billed Dowitchers don't molt until they reach their wintering grounds I could ID these as LBD's. I also managed to capture several pics with Stilt Sandpiper and a Baird's Sandpiper nearby.
The Baird's Sandpiper landed nearby and I was able to get a few digiscoped images before it flushed again.
Packing up my gear, I headed back to the car, only to be greeted by a convoy of large trucks hauling dirt toward the Long Pond Unit. I had to pull over several times as they rumbled by, and got covered in dust in the process. Back in the car I headed off to work for a 9am start.

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