[midvalleybirds] Fwd: Morgan Lake Ruff and Stilt Sandpiper

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Fri Sep 20 05:05:03 PDT 2019

Thanks to Tim Johnson for sharing his follow-up report on the juvenile Ruff at Morgan Lake (on the north side of Baskett Slough NWR, accessible from the parking area at Smithfield x Livermore Rd.). Here's the original report from Roy Gerig, plus a later follow-up report from Brandon Wagner. Ruffs are odd-looking in comparison with our more common shorebirds. To me they seem clumsy and oddly proportioned, with a head that seems too small for their bodies. Saying this just in case it's helpful for anyone in trying to pick one out at a distance.

From: Roy Gerig <roygerig at gmail.com> 
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:27:22 -0700 
Subject: [obol] Ruff and Stilt Sandpiper at Morgan Lake, Baskett Slough NWR 

I finally felt the strength and courage to walk into Morgan Lake in BSNWR, 
about 1/3 of a mile. It was slow and tiring, but worth it on this 
beautiful late summer day. (off topic) A tumor on and subsequent damage to 
my spinal cord has left me with nerve damage that makes it very hard to 
walk, but I am slowly recovering. By spring migration time I should be 
able to walk almost like a regular person, according to the neurosurgeon 
who is seeing me through this. He calls me professor, and I call him 
The lake is down to two puddles with lots of mudflats and giant freshwater 
snails from either Japan (japonicus) or China (chinensis), I cannot 
remember the genus to tell you the binomial...and lots of shorebirds. The 
giant snails were identified for me by Dr Joe Furnish of Salem BLM in 1992, 
at that time we did not know of them around Salem except at Morgan Lake. 

There were 80 Dowitchers, several each of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, 10 
Western Sandpipers, and what I first thought to be an extreme Short-billed 
Dowitcher except it was noticeably smaller but feeding with them and like 
them, it raised a wing so that I could see a white rump, a STILT 
SANDPIPER. It is pale gray, paler and smaller than a Lesser Yellowlegs 
next to it. 

Nearby with some Greater Yellowlegs but a little smaller with a short all 
dark bill and yellow legs was a male RUFF. The RUFF and a Greater 
Yellowlegs flew over to the puddle north of the main puddle when I could 
see the white U on the upper tail coverts. I have seen 2 or 3 Ruffs over 
the past 20 years in Ankeny NWR, south of Salem (BSNWR is west of Salem) 
that seemed identical to the one today, most likely juvenile and male by 

On the walk in I saw a SNOW GOOSE with 60 or so Canadas. That seems 
early. We usually see a few, never more than that of Snow Geese around 
here in fall/winter 

Roy Gerig, Salem OR

From: bmwboarder at gmail.com
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2019 22:04:04 -0700
Subject: [obol] Morgan Lake, Baskett Slough shorebirds

Hi birding friends,

After hearing about the Ruff from Roy Gerig, I headed out to Morgan Lake this evening where I caught up with Don Berg. The Ruff was still there as the sun was setting. A new life bird for me! There was also a good variety of shorebirds there, mostly all close to the dam as there are just two small ponds left in the bottom of Morgan Lake. Lots of mudflats. We had at least 10 species of shorebirds, with good numbers of them too. The Ruff is a beautifully golden colored juvenile too.

Shorebirds we saw:
Pectoral sandpiper
Both yellowlegs
Semipalmated plovers

I also briefly saw one mostly gray and larger shorebird with a shorter bill hanging out with the dowitchers. Maybe the stilt sandpiper?  Somehow we lost it after a few seconds. Hope it is still around too.

It’s a good spot right now. I bet more things will show up if the area gets checked with any regularity.

Brandon Wagner

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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