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


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