Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stilt Sandpiper

In early August 2009 I headed out to Holden Creek, where I met up with one of my birding pals; Mike Ashbee, another fanatical birder who’s obsessive addiction compels him to return time and time again to Holden Creek. Mike is originally from Alberta but moved to the island in the last few years. Mike is great fun to be around. His drive and enthusiasm is infectious as is his unequivocal optimism! Mike is not only a great birder but also an exceptional photographer.
Lesser Yellowlegs
Pectoral Sandpiper
            On this day, Mike and I slowly walked out onto the estuary, stopping and observing every few minutes, making sure that we did not spook the birds. Shorebirds were, literally, everywhere, flying over our heads, calling, moving up and down the main channel and filling many of the small pools scattered across the fields. We observed eight different species including: Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Bairds’s Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher and over sixty Lesser Yellowlegs; the most I have ever seen in one place.
            A visit in mid-September produced fewer birds, though it was nice to see Pectoral Sandpiper. Returning again today was a good idea as not only were there many birds, there was also a lifer for Mike! We were observing a feeding frenzy of Long-billed Dowitcher’s, over a hundred, busily probing in the muddy pools when Mike noticed a pale bird. We put the scope on it without delay and confirmed its identity: Stilt Sandpiper! This was a bird that Mike had been dreaming about on our earlier outings and a bird that I had only seen once on Vancouver Island. Positioning ourselves slowly and carefully in front of one of the pools we waited. This delicate long-legged shorebird put on a great show, walking within 10ft of our location.
Stilt Sandpiper

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