Sunday, June 5, 2011

Red-necked Phalaropes! - 04 Jun 2011

Yes, Chuck, Redneck Phalaropes DO have mullets.   These didn't.

I parked at Siegler Rd. this morning and biked the North Causeway of Pt. Mouillee out to the Banana Unit.  I stopped long enough to digiscope this pair of Osprey setting up shop in the Vermet Unit.  Great to see the new platform being put to use after 2+ years.  It'll be a nice compliment to the Osprey pair in the Humphries Unit.

I biked around Cell 5 and found only open water surrounded by a Cottonwood forest.  Several Redhead and straggler Lesser Scaup were found along the north shoreline.

Biking over to Cell 3 I found Will Weber scoping out 3 of 4 Red-necked Phalaropes he'd seen since this morning.  We were soon joined by Mary Trombley, Scott Jennex and Todd Palgut.  Though all of us looked, there was no sign of the Ruff reported on Thursday.

Shorebird numbers were way down this morning.  A stiff south wind may have pushed many of the Dunlin northward, but for now we were content with watching 3 RN Phalaropes, a dozen Semipalmated Sandpipers, a single White-rumped Sandpiper, and several Least Sandpipers.

I had a chance to digiscope some of the variations in Semipalmated Sandpiper bill length.  This individual has an extremely long bill (for a Semi), and may have been a similar bird to the one I reported last week as being a possible Western Sandpiper.

The White-rumped Sandpiper was a bit easier to find this morning than usual.  I tried to photograph it as it foraged among the slightly smaller Semipalmated Sandpipers so as to compare body size and shapes.  Note the long wing projection (past the tail) and finely streaked 'bib'.

I spent most of my time, however, trying to digiscope the phalaropes.  I wasn't close enough to get the best out of the digiscoping equipment, but did alright w/ the 20-60X zoom eyepiece and Coolpix P6000 (my 45X wide eyepiece is on its way to Germany for repair of a stress crack). 

It took me a while to differentiate the female from the males (she's slightly larger and a bit more colorful).  Still, it got me thinking whether these were males or just non-breeding females?

When we weren't looking for shorebirds, Will was able to find several Cattle Egrets in the Humphries Unit.  A few Yellow-headed Blackbirds were visible, as well.  I would later find a fly-by American Bittern on my way back to the car.  Sorry, no Whimbrels this morning.

A good morning!

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