Friday, June 6, 2014 Least Sandpiper Study

Seward, Alaska

A useful birding tip, oft repeated, is to get to know the local, common birds really well so that when a rarity shows up, you will at least know it is different. The trick is to actually be able to find and observe the local birds, and then do it with minimum disturbance. They need to go about their business of survival, find shelter, safety, food, and a mate, evade predators, build a secret, safe nest, and raise their precious family without worrying about our prying eyes and invasive presence.

So, I was very surprised and pleased when a LEAST SANDPIPER presented itself on a handy piece of driftwood and posed with the utmost cooperation and patience while I staged a photo shoot. It allowed me to move slowly around it for different angles without any apparent distress. At one point, the little sandpiper caught a fly with the tip of its black bill, but gently let it go, then ignored it as it perched on the very bill that caught it. I suppose they were both living dangerously with potential predators close by. Hold your friends close but your enemies closer?

When my study was done, I slowly rose to my full, scary height, and quietly walked away. I looked back, and the little peep was still standing there on the log, maybe in the company of the fly, as the sleepy afternoon rolled on.

Now, if a rarity like an Asian LONG-TOED STINT shows up, hopefully I will be better prepared to recognize the difference. It's tricky though. There was quite a discussion on Sporadic Bird on May 8, 2012 about the subtle differences between the two species.

Another useful birding tip is to be vigilant and look closely at those local, common birds. They may not all be what they seem. That's where a good, documentary photograph is essential. Otherwise, no one will believe you!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment