The bird was found just below the island of trees used by the Bald Eagles in the south end of the Vermet Unit out from the Middle Causeway. A open field of soft, spongy ground and gale-force winds greeted me when I arrived shortly before 2 pm. Heat shimmer didn't help, and scoping proved to be difficult. That said, I could not locate the large shorebird, which is about the size of a Lesser Yellowlegs, similar-looking except for distinctively more orange-red legs and black-centered feathers on back and wings. I even attempted to hike into the cattail stands, hopping from clump-to-clump trying to avoid sinking into 6" of duckweed-covered muck. No luck. Plenty of Pectoral Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs, but no Ruff.
I rode on to Cell 3 to check it out, and found lots of shorebirds, mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs. But again, the winds were gusting and I had hard enough time w/ binoculars, so I headed home.
Several texts came Sunday morning that the Ruff was relocated in the same area as Saturday, so I waited until about 4 pm to head back down there. Incidentally, the Detroit Tigers were in the 8th inning of a 19-inning game that wouldn't end until I got back into the car at 8 pm!
|Tony Leukering, James Fox and Lou Dombrowski|
Here's a slow-motion video of the Ruff by itself. Note the leg color and back feathers.
Here's a comparison video of the Ruff w/ Pectoral Sandpiper. Note how leg color differs!
Now here's the Ruff next to a Lesser Yellowlegs!
I felt bad for Bruce Cohen and Sean Williams, who showed up (literally) as the flock of shorebirds took to the air. Sean spotted a Peregrine Falcon buzzing the Banana Unit, so we suspect that its presence prompted the departure of the birds. They would stay in the area until 8 pm and not relocate the bird. I went on and spent some time in Cell 3 before coming back around 7:30 pm, but would no see the Ruff, either. Plenty of other birds, though, hiding in the stubble: Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers!