Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Weed Lake Shorebirds

This afternoon I headed out to Weed Lake, a short drive east of the city near the town of Langdon.  There had been reports of Black-crowned Night Heron, which would be a new bird for me.  This lake is also a decent spot for shorebirds.  As it turns out, with relatively high water levels in so many places in the province, there was much to be seen.  Here a few digiscoped images.

See how many species you can see in this photo (click to enlarge).  I put my answers at the bottom of this post, if you have any additions or subtractions to my list PLEASE let me know in the comments.
I was excited to see some Sanderling, a new bird for me.  I based my identification on size (compare to the Willet and ducks), the reddish breast with abrupt transition to a white belly, and the behaviour (remaining relatively far from the water and moving around very rapidly).  There are six of them lined up in the centre of this image, the Willet is the pale bird to the right.  These little sandpipers can be tough so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
There were, of course, many waterfowl on the lake with rapidly growing young.  They included many species of duckling, huddling together in huge rafts far out on the lake...
... and some grebelings (a new term that I have just made up, although I'm probably not the first person to do so!).  In this case, they were Eared Grebes hanging out with a Ruddy Duck mom and three young - she is at the centre of the image.
After leaving the main body of the lake, I drove through some wetland to the south on the charmingly named Dead Horse Road.  A Great Blue Heron flushed from the side of the road, either startled by my van or by the three Red-winged Blackbirds that were in hot pursuit.  Fortunately the target species Black-crowned Night Herons were further from the road and apparently less threatening to the blackbirds.  I found a total of three birds hanging out in the reeds, two very close together, perhaps a breeding pair?
On my way home I saw this Solitary Sandpiper - it was far away from all the other sandpipers ;)
Answers to photo number one: I was able to ID Willet, Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Dowitcher, Sanderling, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalarope, and Forster's Tern.  Your feedback is welcome. 

Lastly, I was able to get some video of some dowitchers doing their trademark sewing maching impersonation and will post it as soon as I have it uploaded.  Stay tuned!

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