Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shorebirds now gathering in swale on Lakeshore Drive

I just checked out the rainpool behind the UNO Lakefront Arena on Lakeshore Drive, to see if water was low enough to begin attracting shorebirds.

Bingo!  Ten minutes produced:
3 Killdeer
2 Black-bellied Plover (one in breeding plumage with the black belly)
2 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Lesser Yellowlegs
50 Least Sandpiper
4 Pectoral Sandpiper

There may have been another "peep" or two mixed in with the Least Sandpipers, at least among the 20 or so that were a little to far for binocular assessment.  Western and Semipalmated are the two other small sandpipers (peeps) that are most likely to mix with Leasts and Pectorals.  They both have dark legs, while the Leasts and Pectorals both have pale (yellow-green) legs.  Though similar in shape and color pattern, the Leasts and Pecs are easily told apart when together- Pecs being much larger.  Pecs also have a crisply demarcated boundary between the breast streaking and white belly,  seldom found in Least.  The large majority of Leasts at the swale today were in adult plumage, dull brown-gray above, but a few retained brighter rufous tones indicative of being juveniles (hatched this summer).

Direct size comparison is also the easiest way to tell Greater from Lesser Yellowlegs.  Failing that, Greater can be told by the longer bill with very slight upturn (shorter and straight in Lesser), usually much more extensive dark flecking on the sides/flanks, and longer call (3+ notes).

If water continues to fall, the pond is likely to get more birdy.  Light is rather problematic at mid day- I suggest coming early or late and approaching with the sun at your back.

Good birding!


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