Friday, 18 May 2012

A Pack of Pecs

I finally managed to get a snap of one the black-headed grosbeaks down at Langford Lake today, albeit a distant one.
These birds are a pain in the rear, always staying nicely out of range whenever I have a camera at hand and then practically landing on my head and singing whenever I don't...

There wasn't much else down there, apart from several bullfrogs. As non-natives to the island, these voracious amphibians are not particularly popular among local naturalists, with good reason. Nonetheless, I couldn't resist taking a pic or two.

I had planned to pay a visit to Panama Flats after work today, and so was even more determined when I heard that a flock of some FIFTY pectoral sandpipers had been seen there this morning. Pecs are relatively common passage migrants here but usually occur in small numbers, so I expect that this wad of waders was quite a sight to behold!
I arrived at the Flats after work to discover to my surprise that I was the only birder present. I assume the local listers had already been throughout the day to check the shorebird action. Almost immediately I came across a gang of 5 blue-winged teal in the SW quadrant - 3 drakes and 2 ducks. A nice year-tick to start the evening's birding!

Soon I could see several calidrid shapes feeding distantly on the muddy fringes of the SE quad. Within a short time I was scoping through a mass of pectoral sandpipers, and counted an astonishing 148 of the things! While counting the pecs, I also noticed a couple of spotted sandpipers, 7 dowitcher spp, 2 least sandpipers, a dunlin and a single western sandpiper. Bloody amazing stuff. Now THIS is what I call birding!

I tried and tried to locate a more interesting interloper and checked all the pecs for something with nice chevrons on the flanks and a rusty cap but my optimism went unrewarded.
A handsome solitary sandpiper was showing well along the vegetated edges.
As I approached the central berm I saw that were still yet more pectoral sandpipers on the pool in front of the grey building - a further 45. So, at the very least there were 193 pectoral sandpipers in the area! I expect you could probably add another 40 or so to that figure to have something close to a real estimate.  
One thing for sure, I saw more pec sandpipers today that I have collectively seen in my life.

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