Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wood Sandpiper (YES) - another successful shorebird chase...

When I got the phone call from my friend Tom Burke, it was well after 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon on Saturday October 13th and I was well er...not in the field. I later picked up Tom's message and learned that a "possible" Wood Sandpiper was found in Rhode Island by one Carlos Pedro. This was exciting news for me. Wood Sandpiper, was a bird I was looking for at several shorebird sites, especially at Jamaica Bay in Queens and I was thrilled that one was found albeit out of state.

It took mere seconds to decide that I wanted to chase this bird. It would be a lifer and a shorebird at that, but more importantly I wanted to study it, so that I could have an imprint on what to look for in our area. The term, "possible" hung in the air though and so I called Tom back for more information. Tom by then, had gotten more information in the form of a video of the bird that was posted and he assured me that the ID was good. In addition, I learned that another friend,Shai Mitra, was already on the road heading to Rhode Island. After speaking with Tom, I subsequently spoke to Shai before he arrived at the location and I was assured that he would get back to me with an update once he had a chance to look at the bird in question.

In the meantime, I began to prepare with gear check, full tank of gas etc, all the necessary steps one takes in preparation for a chase. I kept an eye on the time and when I got the call back from Shai, it went something like this. "Where are you Andrew?,(Shai assuming I could not have resisted the temptation to wait). Waiting for your call was my reply. This is a fine looking bird was Shai's response". The excitement built, I was going on a chase, but it would have to be the next day since it was too late!!! A few phone calls before dinner and it was decided that I was leaving from Long Island. I ended up teaming up with Patricia Lindsay and Holly Wilson. We three left from Long Island the next morning, taking the ferry into Rhode Island.

We were greeted by Shai after our arrival and headed over to Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve in Jamestown, the location the bird was last seen. There were many birders on the scene when we arrived and their body language was not very encouraging. We learned that the bird was seen earlier before our arrival, but had flown north west into the marsh and had not been seen for over an hour. Not to be dissuaded, we settled in for the wait and after several hours of patiently waiting and witnessing several false alarms over Lesser Yellowlegs, the bird was refound in a tidal pool near the marsh outlet. It was a joyous moment for all those who stuck it out. Well over 40 birders enjoyed excellent looks at a very, very confiding Wood Sandpiper! I took photos, notes, videos and extended an invitation to the Wood Sandpiper to pay me a visit at Jamaica Bay, we shall see if it accepts. In the meantime, if you are nearby and have not yet made the chase, I suggest that you do. This was indeed, to quote Shai Mitra, "A fine looking bird". I hope you enjoy the photos and short video that I have posted below!

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Cindy said...

A very fine looking sandpiper. Congratulations


Thanks Cindy, that was a very cool bird indeed.

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