Monday, September 3, 2012

Sharp-shinned Vs. Sharp-tailed......

I must have dozed off on the couch, when the sweetest alarm clock rang, my "Surfin Bird" ringtone.  Much as in "The BigYear", I have assigned the above mentioned song to Victoria birders, so usually it means that something has shown up somewhere.

In this case, it was Mike McGrenere calling, with news that he had found a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at McIntyre Reservoir.  It figures that the one day I decided not to check the reservoir, something shows up!  As quickly as I could put on a pair of shoes I was out the door, texting Jeremy G. and Ann N. on my way.  Jeremy left just as quickly, and Ann put the word out to the birding community.

I decided to pass on a quick coffee stop, as a similar stop had cost me an Orchard Oriole in Tofino a couple of years ago, and got to McIntyre in record time, finding Mike and Jeremy intently scanning the fringes of a now full body of water with very little shoreline.  A couple of Pectoral Sandpipers ducked in and out of the waterside weeds, and a Greater Yellowlegs patrolled the fringe while 3 Western Sandpipers flew back and forth.  Eventually a bird that seemed a bit brighter appeared on the far side and promptly disappeared from view.  We all watched the area, Mike and Jeremy via scope, and me with binoculars as I had broken my tripod at Sidney Spit yesterday.

The bird finally came back into view, and Jeremy G was able to get the ID on it.  We all got great looks at the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper right out in the open, and managed to watch it in the company of a Pectoral Sandpiper for about 5 minutes.  Elaine P. showed up in time to get a brief look, and then disaster struck. 

A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in low and fast, looking for a meal, and the shorebirds all scattered, sending the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper north in the company of 4 Pecs.  The birds looked for a time like they would circle back, and then disappeared just as a number of other birders showed up, an almost perfect reenactment of what happened last year with the Red-necked Stint at Witty's Lagoon.

We continued to search and eventually relocated 4 Pectoral Sandpipers as the hawk continued to patrol for dinner.  When I left at 5pm, the bird still hadn't reappeared.

A great bird for the year, and my first Sharp-tailed Sandpiper for the Victoria Checklist Area!  Many thanks to Mike for finding this bird and getting the word out!

Bring on the fall rarities!

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