Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fall Shorebirds, Including American Golden-Plovers

We've made several trips lately to a wet and muddy field in Goodhue County near Stanton, where good numbers of shorebirds have been present in recent days. We've seen lesser yellowlegs, greater yellowlegs, least sandpipers, semi-palmated sandpipers, stilt sandpipers, semi-palmated plovers and yesterday a real treat: three American golden-plovers. These were a life bird for me, and it was only the second time in 20 years of birding that Dave has seen them.

Lesser Yellowlegs

The light was good to capture these lesser yellowlegs and their reflections.

Lesser Yellowlegs

The three golden-plovers weren't in such good light as the yellowlegs above, and were farther away.  One of the three birds was darker than the other, helping us quickly recognize that we were seeing golden-plovers. The dark bird did not seem as black as the breeding males shown in the field guides, so it may have been an adult female. The paler birds may be juveniles, as it may be a bit early for the adults to be in their paler non-breeding plumage. The dark spots on the underside of the pale bird below were quite distinctive.

American Golden-Plovers - juvenile and female?

American Golden-Plover - juvenile?

The American Golden-Plover breeds in the high Arctic and winters in central and southern South America, so it has one of the longest migrations of any shorebird.

Below is a wider view showing just one small section of this temporary wetland, filled with shorebirds.

A variety of shorebirds (click to see them better)

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