[birding] E.E. Wilson shorebirds - Semipalmated Sandpiper (yes, Sandpiper)

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Wed Sep 2 15:28:09 PDT 2009

 Hello folks,

I went for a long walk around E.E. Wilson at lunchtime today, and just
got back now. I dragged my scope along hoping for some shorebirds, and
was pleasantly surprised to see that a fair amount of mud has opened up
on the Canal Pond. There were only about 5 peeps out in the open when I
first arrived, but while I hung aroudn and studied the ones that were in
view, eventually good numbers materialized out of the vegetation around
the pond.

Here's the quick summary:

Killdeer - 8 or so
Greater Yellowlegs - 1 juv and 1 adult
Least Sandpiper - about 30
Western Sandpiper - about 25, mix of juvs & adults
Long-billed Dowitcher - 2 juvs
Wilson's Snipe - 2

The SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER stood out from the Westerns because of the
evenly scaly appearance of its back (except for a faint set of whitish
braces), its overall buffier (versus rufous) tones, shorter bill, and a
strong whitish supercilium contrasting with the darker cap -- I was
actually looking for a Baird's Sandpiper when I spotted it. Its bill was
noticeably shorter than most of the nearby Westerns, and was close to
straight but with a slight downward curvature (relatively evenly curved
along the length of the bill, rather than drooping toward the end).
Black legs, dingy buffy-brownish breast, other underparts clean white.

The adult GREATER YELLOWLEGS tried to choke down what looked a dead
Red-legged Frog, though maybe a Pacific Chorus-Frog (whatever it was,
the frog's  hind legs hung down about even with the bird's bill tip,
when the frog's head was jammed about as far into its mouth as it would
go. After trying for about five minutes, the bird finally gave up and
resorted to picking at the frog.

Other birds of interest included two GREEN HERONS.

I also checked the more secluded NE corner pond hoping for a little more
Tringa diversity, but found no shorebirds there, despite open water and
some exposed mud. Toketie Marsh (the remediation pond for Coffin Butte
Regional Landfill) had: 

Killdeer - 6
Spotted Sandpiper - 1 spotless

Close to eighty shorebirds, with eight shorebird species on one walk, is
about as good as it ever gets in shorebird-deprived northern Benton

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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