Shorebirding, time permitting
Here is a post as brief as the time I spent in the field this weekend.
It’s early August. The listservs and eBird reports and personal e-mails are ringing with all the migrating and dispersing shorebirds and waders and terns moving through. Unfortunately, I found myself at home this past weekend, tied to the non-birding world by a family wedding (my wife’s brother) that when it doesn’t have me involved in festivities, has me watching mine and other children in a desperate bid to avoid time on the golf course. It’s not that I hate golf, only that I’m completely ambivalent towards it. That and also epically terrible. I would have rather been birding, but that would have been a tough sell.
Even though there’s a lot going on, I did manage to slip away for a brief walk up one arm of Falls Lake that has been progressing nicely from shallow lakefront to vast expanses of mud. Shorebird heaven. I didn’t expect much, and I scarcely had time to walk down the railroad grade and make a quick scope of the popular spots, so I admit I was lucky that the best bird of the afternoon was one that didn’t require a lot of scrutiny. A larger than life, peach headed, American Avocet was strutting about among the Pecs and Solitary Sandpipers and the omnipresent Killdeer. Pretty nice.
Needless to say, I was pretty stoked. American Avocet was a new bird for the Triangle for me, and it’s an excellent bird anywhere off the coast, where they winter in decent numbers on the Outer Banks. It’s been some time since I saw one in the nice apricot necked plumage of summer though. The black and white is a striking combination year round, but that head just sets it all off. A great bird.
Now I was perfectly happy with this find, the quality of the bird stacked against the time I had to spend made for a pretty pleasant ratio. But because my time was limited I headed straight home after completely scanning the mudflats here, and I didn’t visit some of the other places I usually stop at when I’m up this way. Had I not set up the “county needs” alerts for eBird, I wouldn’t have realized that another birding visiting those same site at the same time I was in Durham County had picked up both Black and Caspian Terns at another Falls Lake overlook. Not that Avocet wasn’t great, but dang…
Onward and upward, though. Fortunately it’s only the first week of August.