This afternoon Reuben Stoltzfus and I happened to converge on the tower by Tschache Pool (NYS-89 immediately north of I-90) at Montezuma NWR.
The continuing SNOWY EGRET was out in the marsh, much smaller and a bit more active than the several GREAT EGRETS. Reuben, who noticed it first, said it was eating insects. What really caught our eye was a large concentration of shorebirds on distant mud (the pool has been drained) as far to the right as we could see from the tower. Most prominent were the BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, of which I counted 31 including a couple in non-breeding plumage which showed their black axillaries during short flights. Below the plovers was a carpet of mostly DUNLIN, likely a couple hundred, in breeding plumage. Among them were also several (20?) breeding plumage DOWITCHERS, probably Short-billed by the timing (which was reported there a few days ago), but they were too distant and busy among other birds for me to be certain. I find dowitchers tricky to speciate except the juveniles. Reuben also picked out a breeding plumage female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE surrounded by Dunlin but busily working back and forth in a puddle in the mud flat. It had black plumage from the thin straight bill up onto the entire crown and upper face. It had a prominent white patch on the lower face. Brick red plumage covered the neck all the way around, but the gray below the red extended higher in the middle of the front, as did the white of the belly. This was only the second time I had seen this plumage, and even though the light conditions were good it was difficult to view due to distance, its activity, and so many Dunlin in the way even though they were not quite as active. We decided to try looking from the side of NYS-89 where the shoulders are wide just south of South Mays Point Road. I was able to scope through some weeds on the berm while standing on the pavement, but we both benefited from scoping while standing in the bed of Reuben’s driver’s pickup truck. Then I could see another spread of closer birds, including many SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. After Reuben had to leave, something scared up many of the nearer birds, and I picked out a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in flight among them. I had also seen SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS farther away, beyond the DUNLIN crowd near the edge of marsh vegetation. The BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS had flown toward the back of Tschache Pool just as we were about to leave the tower, but I got my scope on them in flight and saw among them 4 birds with similar shape but smaller overall, with relatively longer narrower wings, and unmarked brown all over, which I interpreted to be AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER. Unfortunately an immature Bald Eagle spooked the entire mixed flock of Dunlin, dowitchers, and the phalarope, and I could not see where they went. Fortunately one bird did not leave: a breeding plumage RUDDY TURNSTONE which we had overlooked remained standing on a log. After awhile it flew toward me and closer to the berm thus also out of sight. There were quite possibly other species which we missed as well, as our attention had been focused on the phalarope. Also near the tower were a black-throated green male ORCHARD ORIOLE, a singing BLACKPOLL WARBLER, and the usual WILLOW FLYCATCHER, YELLOW WARBLER, etc. SWAMP SPARROWS and MARSH WRENS sang from the marsh, etc. - - Dave Nutter -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --