Monday, December 23, 2013

Shore Birds At Gooseberry

As we approach closer to the holiday time, I want to wish all my readers a happy holiday season though matter which holiday you observe and hopefully within the next year we could have really peace on earth.

As I was photographing the shorebirds the other day at Gooseberry and observing their behavior because the more you know about a species the more you can predict what you need to do to get better pictures. I met a gentleman who was birdwatching and we started talking and he pointed out the Purple Sandpiper to me and I pointed out a Ruddy Turnstone to him.
Ruddy Turnstone with Sanderlings and a Dunlin

Purple Sandpiper and a Dunlin

 After the gentleman left and I was continuing on my way, I saw a shorebird that was larger than the Sanderlings and Dunlins, I first thought it would be the Purple Sandpiper, however its bill was all black and it had more mottling on the breast and belly and hatch marks on the tail-feathers.  I sat down and photograph this unknown bird and it approached very close to me. Even with the bird identification app in my smart phone and my bird book I still wasn't sure what it was. When I arrived home and download the pictures and utilized my copy of Stokes Birds of North America, I had an idea what it was. To make sure, I sent pictures to a good friend of mine, Paul Champlin who has been extremely kind to identify unknown birds for me. Sure enough he sent back the answer, in fact he had seen the bird that same afternoon, it was a Red Knot in winter plumage. I went onto e- bird and found that it is a very rare winter occurrence here in southeastern Massachusetts. In fact the only pictures I have of a Red Knot I had taken in 2010 at Nickerson Beach.
Red Knot Winter Plumage

Red Knot Winter Plumage
Red Knots at Nickerson Beach
In the parking lot at Gooseberry there was a large puddle in which a number of Dunlins were bathing which made for some interesting pictures.

Dunlin Landing

Dunlins Preening and bathing

Dunlin Bathing
At times the different species were separated and other times they were mixed up together. The little bit of fighting over food that I saw usually was among the same species. In fact I obtained a picture of a Dunlin and Sanderling feeding on the same slipper shell.

Dunlin and Sanderling feeding on a slipper shell