If every there was an exercise in frustration, at least for me, it would be identifying shorebirds. My philosophy has always been to really know the common birds. That way when I see something that seems a little off when looking at those birds, I know that I need to hit the field guide to see if I have spotted a rarer species.
To be honest, more often than not I am noticing a new detail and learning more about a common bird. Perhaps there is a change in plumage or just some detail I never noticed before. But every now and then I see that I have spotted a lifer or a bird that is a little out of the ordinary.
Today I decide to hit the pannes of of the Eastern Trail in Scarborough Marsh. I got there before daybreak and staked-out one of the pannes waiting for the light of day. Sunrise was cloudy and it was several hours before I had good lighting, but I was still able to observe a lot of birds and get some pretty good images.
I will post more in the next few days, including some great views I had of a Northern Harrier and something a bit more narrative, but asides from the first two images, the other 8 are all shorebirds. These images have all been reduced to 1024×768 pixels. If you’d like a larger resolution image to help with an ID let me know. If you want a print, I can make arrangements too.
1) The first shot of the day, a Great Egret catching the daybreak in its wings.
2) A hovering Kingfisher
3) Two Dowitchers. I think that the one in the foreground is a Short-billed Dowitcher and the one behind it is a Long-billed Dowitcher. (Incidentally, the Queen Mother was a Dowager not to be confused with Dowitcher) The tail feathers have a lot more banding on the long-billed dowitcher, which is also a slightly larger bird. Incidentally, bill length overlaps and isn’t really a good indicator.
4) Long-billed Dowitcher
5) A distant bird I couldn’t get close to which I believe is an American Golden Plover.
6) Much better look at this plover, very good lighting and I was able to get close to capture this image of a Black-Bellied Plover in its winter plumage.
7) In one of the pannes I found a group of shorebirds that included (to the best of my abilities a Short-Billed Dowitcher, a Long-billed Dowitcher, a Stilt Sandpiper, a Lesser Yellow Legs, and a Hudsonian Godwit. Here you can see the Stilt Sandpiper, a Dowitcher and the Hudsonian Godwit.
8) The Stilt Sandpiper (or is it?)
9) Hudsonian Godwit
10) Lesser Yellowlegs