The Wandering Tattler is an 11" Pacific coast sandpiper that breeds along streams in Alaska and winters on rocky coasts from California to Mexico. I took this photo in Monterey, California and I just like the composition of the rock, intense blue water behind and the birds yellow legs.
|Red Phalarope - female breeding|
Third next is the 8" Buff-breasted Sandpiper. This bird summers in the Canadian arctic and migrates through the central states to South America. It prefers short grassy fields and can be found on sod farms but seldom on the coast. In fact, this is the only one I have ever seen, and it was in Carmel, California where they are a reportable vagrant. I found it myself which is always exciting to be the first to find and report a rarity. He is in the kelp washed up on the beach.
The Ruff is a Eurasian sandpiper that occasionally shows up along both coasts and a few can be found in Alaska in the summer. The male is unusual in that he has a ruff of feathers on his neck that he uses in displaying. I have seen females occasionally in Texas, but this is the only breeding male I have seen and he was in Barrow Alaska.
|Ruff - male breeding|
The 9" Mountain Plover is probably the most difficult of the North American plovers to find. It breeds on the plains of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and winters in central Mexico, although a few are seen in south Texas. It is extremely rare to find on the upper Texas coast. I did find one in Galveston in 1995 and another was not found for 13 years. However, last winter, this one spent several weeks on Bolivar flats and many birders got to see it. I had looked for this bird in California, and south Texas several times to try and photograph it without success.
Lapwings are tall plovers, often boldly patterned. Unfortunately for us in North America, there are none. Every other continent has a several resident species. This 14" Southern Lapwing was photographed in Panama.
The 37" Northern Gannet is a member of the gannet and booby family of large seabirds. This bird breeds on offshore islands of Atlantic Canada and winters along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, usually well offshore. I had seen it once before in Florida. In late July of 2010, I was driving along the seawall in Galveston and saw a large bird swimming close to the rocks. At first I thought it was a pelican, but as I got closer, obviously the color was wrong. I stopped and got out to see what it was. I realized it was a gannet that shouldn't even be here at this time of year. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera, but went home and returned with camera. By the time I got back, he had climbed out onto the rocks at the base of the seawall. I climbed down the stairs and went over the rocks to take his photo. I posted it on Texbirds and several others saw him and Wildlife Rescue was called and took him. Unfortunately, one can never find out from the rescue service what was wrong and what happened to the bird.
photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald
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