When we arrived, the lack of birders in the area gave us a sinking feeling that maybe the bird was not around, but we focused on searching the area. I chased down a couple who I spotted with binoculars only to learn that they were not even aware that a rarity was in the area. Not, what we wanted to hear, but I urged them to join us to look for the bird! We continued exploring the area and were looking at a strange looking Tri-colored Heron (more on this later), when I noticed another couple with a spotting scope looking at another pond (later determined to be Boulder Pond). They had a field guide out and I began to get excited. Field Guide could only mean one thing; they had a bird that they needed to verify the ID.
|Ruff/Reeve a lifer!!|
Readers might be wondering why when describing this bird, I choose to use Ruff/Reeve. Even though the size seems to point to a female (Reeve), I have no experience with this species and so I cannot confidently say this is a male or female. Well, how about the plumage of the males you may wonder...isn't it different than females? Yes and no. At this time of the year "typical" males known as Ruffs would be easy to identify with their extensive neck plumes which goes on full display when courting or lekking. But wait, I just used "typical", so what does that mean?
Ruffs, the males, have a lekmating system with three males types, the colourful independent males, the white satellite males and the faeders, who so closely resemble females that they are indistinguishable in the field (Hogan-Warburg 1966; van Rhijn 1991; Jukema & Piersma 2006). This bird could very well fall into the faeder category; hence, my position. If you want to learn more about this fascinating species, then take a look at this link and also google for more information. It is pretty cool stuff!
|Nice size comparison: Far left - Ruff/Reeve, center - Greater Yellow-legs, right - Eastern Willet.|
|Ruff/Reeve in flight.|