Hi All, First, my apologies for the delay in this trip summary. On August 4th, over 30 intrepid birders of all ages and skill levels came out for the first guided shorebird walk of the season at Montezuma NWR. We met at the Visitor Center and consolidated at the East Rd. overlook to head out on the dikes of Knox-Marcellus and Puddler marshes. The weather was great in the morning and heated up as the day progressed. The insects were mercifully few, and viewing conditions were quite good for the first few hours.
We encountered a nice diversity of shorebirds, with much opportunity for direct comparison of tricky species. The birds were quite flighty at times, likely a combination of an early pass by a Merlin, and their practice of synchronized flight for migration. There was a fair amount of re-shuffling of the flocks, but many opportunities for prolonged study as well. Some highlights: a SPOTTED SANDPIPER at the SE corner of K-M. Good comparative views of groups of species that present ID challenges: GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and KILLDEER, as well as the troubling trio of STILT SANDPIPERS, LONG-BILLED and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. We also had PECTORAL sandpipers with their distinctively neat breast streaking. We had a flock of 18 SANDHILL CRANES at the north end of Puddler(and another group of 3 for 21 total), who provided great views and bugled as the flew over. Ultra-highlights include an ABA area rare female RUFF in drab nonbreeding plumage discovered by Jay McGowan, who helped many get on the bird. (Thanks, Jay!). And a continuing juvenile YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON spotted by Dave Nutter. This young bird was quite cooperative- perching for some time in a bare branched tree near Puddler, and offering great scope views. An obliging juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON flew in to the marsh edge just after the YCNH retreated to deep cover, allowing a good study of the differences between these similar and cryptic juvenile birds. We all dispersed generally once the heat became overwhelming, but that was an excellent morning of birding. A very big THANK YOU to all who came out for the walk, with special thanks to the experienced birders who shared their eyes, insight, and optics. And another very big thanks to the staff at MNWR for granting us the opportunity to get up close and personal with the birds, and to witness the benefits of the hard work they do maintaining this crucial habitat for wildlife! Dave Nicosia will be leading more shorebird walks in the coming Saturdays. Hope to see you there! Good birding, Josh P.S.- I am happy to add anyone from the walks to the eBird checklist I kept, just send me your email or eBird username off list. Thanks! -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/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/ --