Thursday, August 23, 2012

Of Snipes and Phalaropes - 22 Aug 2012

I only had about an hour's worth of good daylight, but decided to try to get some early evening pics of the Red-necked Phalaropes reported earlier this week by Andrew Sturgess.

I rode the bike out along the North Causeway of Pt. Mouillee SGA toward the Vermet Unit, where the birds had been sighted.  As I reached the Long Pond Unit I spotted a pair of Wilson's Snipe foraging along the Huron River shoreline to my left.  Not wasting the opportunity I stopped to digiscope the pair of birds.

One bird tended to remain hidden behind the stubble, while I struggled to capture the second bird as it popped its head up every once in a while.  I had to extend the center post of the scope so that could digiscope over the grasses from 40' away.

At one point the nearby Killdeers flushed, causing this fellow to squat flare its tail feathers.  Its not often  that one gets to see these lovely red feathers.  I also managed to get a few pics as the bird stretched and fanned its wings.

Leaving them to their foraging, I continued on to the west side of the Vermet Unit, where I saw a few Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs in the open waters of the unit.  Dan Elliot was scoping something toward the south end of the unit, so I headed his way.  The pair of Red-necked Phalaropes were visible, swimming in circles as they foraged near shore.

Digiscoping these birds was difficult.  Distance was a problem, but they kept moving.  I hiked down the side of the dike and waded through the vegetation/thistle to the mudflat, and scoped the birds from there.  I managed only a couple of keepers from a hundred digiscoped attempts.

A Short-billed Dowitcher was one of about 4, and was preening, so I spent a few minutes digiscoping it.

Lesser Yellowlegs were less frightened of my presence, so they were closer and easier to digiscope.

A Northern Harrier was working the north end of the unit, so I squatted in the weeds and waited for it to fly over, but it flew east instead.  I had to settle for a few long-distance pics of a fly-over Common Nighthawk and a fly-in Great Egret.

With the sun setting I headed back to the car, stopping just long enough for a few more pics of the snipe   pair that were sitting quietly in the last rays of the evening.

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