My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Red Knot on Lake Erie

Published September 02, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Red Knot, Sanderling, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Killdeer, Horned Lark, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Merganser, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk

Today's life list addition of a Red Knot was a nice finish to a whirlwind of a week in birding. I found it a real challenge to juggle work responsibilities and home responsibilities in with the mix of several rare sightings and great birding opportunities.

On Tuesday, there were the Red-necked Phalaropes and the Baird's Sandpipers. On Thursday, I returned to Batavia and saw my first American Golden-Plovers that Celeste Morien found on her way home from Batavia on Tuesday. The next evening brought a Golden-winged Warbler, thanks to Sal and Jim Pawlicki (no photos though). And then the next day, on Saturday, I joined Willie D'Anna and Betsy Potter as they pursued the Cattle Egret Gale VerHague found down in Mayville on Friday. Whew!  So when I received the invitation to go to the northern shore of Lake Erie and look for a reported Red Knot, I thought I might as well give the week a big finish and go!  And, unlike our attempt to find the Cattle Egret, we got this bird!

The Red Knot was easily found and identified by its larger, rounder form as it foraged along the beach among many other shorebirds.  Willie, Betsy, Doug Happ, and I moved closer until we were within 100 feet of the rarity. I would love to see an adult in this species in the spring. In breeding plumage, adults have a very striking Robin-red face and underparts. Today, though, this young bird was fairly "dull" looking. S/he sported a thick, black bill, greenish legs, and a gray, mottled back with white underparts.

It was a treat to find 3 Sanderlings in with the group of shorebirds. I haven't seen even one since I saw my first one at Wrights Beach in Dunkirk. The Red Knot was considerably larger than even the Sanderlings and Semipalmated Plovers that were foraging nearby. This was a good opportunity for me to compare sizes and shapes in a nice mix of shorebirds.

On the way home, we stopped at a few sod farms and found a large flock of about 50 American Golden-Plovers. It was a life bird this week and to see these striking birds twice in the week was an unexpected and wonderful surprise!  Many Killdeer and several Horned Larks were in the fields as well.

We scanned hard for a Buff-breasted Sandpiper for Willie's year list to no avail. Willie's BOS Year List is growing and he hopes to break the record for most birds seen in the BOS territory in one year. The Red Knot brought his total up to 273 and I believe the record is 283.  You can check out his Big Year at:  http://www.betsypottersart.com/willie-s-photos/2013-big-year!

Other birds seen today were:  Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover,  Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Merganser, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk.
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Red Knot
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Red Knot
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Red Knot
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Red Knot - a size comparison is shown nicely here with the lighter Sanderling and Least Sandpiper that are in the lower left.
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Red Knot with a Semipalmated Plover in the foreground
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Red Knot
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I'm pretty sure this was a Greater Yellowlegs
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Lesser Yellowlegs
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One of three Sanderlings we found here
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Sanderling