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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Solitary Sandpiper

This guy was seen hanging out by the Red Clay Greenways trail.  I think the correct identification is a Solitary Sandpiper, but shorebirds are definitely not my specialty so please correct me if I have incorrectly identified him/her. 

A great way to bone up on your shorebird ID is to come to the Bucktoe Creek Preserve Shorebird Watch with Larry Lewis daily from 3PM until DUSK.  Here's some information on this great event direct from Larry. Bucktoe Creek Preserve is located at 432 Sharp Road, Avondale PA.

 "The Delaware Bay is an incredibly important staging area for migrant shorebirds. Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Red Knots, Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Whimbrels, Willets, and more, all use the tidal flats to feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs, which provide an easy meal for these famished birds. As they arrive from as far away as South America, these birds are in desperate need of sustenance, having lost a large percentage of their body weight during their migration to the Bay. The Delaware Bay is their final stopover and last chance to gain the weight needed to complete their journey to arctic Canada. They need this easy meal! As they (hopefully) gain and reach their required take-off weight, nearly the entire population will depart for the arctic during the last week of May and the first few days of June.

We may witness nothing other than a wonderful sunset and have a nice time watching local birds and late migrants, but if we do this event at this season every year, we will likely eventually pick the right day and meet with some luck - potentially adding several species to the Bucktoe Creek Preserve bird list (as flyovers), not to mention your PA state list and Chester County lists. That has certainly happened the first 2 years of "The Watch." It boggles ones mind to know that many of these birds will depart the Delaware Bay and fly non-stop to arctic Canada! Wouldn't it be great to see them pass over as they wing their way north? Of course, as we scan the skies we may have a surprise other than a shorebird flock - this is prime time for southern vagrant Swallow-tailed Kite (next bird to fall at Bucktoe?), Mississippi Kite (seen both years), and Anhinga (seen one year, but in the fall)!

From research that I have done, the birds depart the Delaware Bay (most frequently) on a mid- to late-day high tide during late May or the first few days of June, often en mass, but certainly in large flocks, and generally fly north or northwest at some altitude. The migration route for many of these flocks will cross our region - nearly all flocks will go unnoticed. I myself have witnessed this migration, both along the Delaware Bay and over Chester County (before this organized watch was started). This is a truly amazing site to witness these large flocks crossing our region. We have seen large flocks of Black-bellied Plovers flying over southern Chester County and Coatesville, as well as Whimbrel over Lancaster County while we watched for Swallow-tailed Kite and Mississippi Kites (both also seen). You just never know what may fly over, do you??

We will have scopes set up to scan the skies. If you have a scope, bring yours. If you have no scope, binoculars will help scan the skies. The plan is to have a bank of scopes (facing southeast towards the Delaware Bay) for everyone to use should we spot a shorebird flock migrating towards us.

More When and What ?

Please plan on coming out. Bring a collapsible chair (or sit on one of our picnic tables), bring your scope, camera with long lens, dinner and something to drink (adult beverages, okay within reason) and help scan the skies"

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