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Shorebird Field Trip at Montezuma

Published August 02, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Eared Grebe, Long-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, Northern Mockingbird, American Kestrel, Cooper's Hawk, Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

The weatherman gave us a real hot and sunny day for today's field trip at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.  It was worth suffering the heat and sun for the seldom gotten close views of shorebirds at Knox Marsellus Marsh. Usually, the road down to the marsh is closed to the public to protect the migrating birds, but today's special event allowed us access to walk right up to the ponds.

Celeste and I, along with at least 20 others, got really nice looks at some Stilt Sandpipers, my main goal of the day.  They were mixed in with many Lesser Yellowlegs which made for good comparison studies. I noted the barring along the sides and the longer, downcurved bill of the Stilt. Its legs weren't the bright yellow color of a yellowlegs either, but more of a greenish-yellow.  I had memorized these key field marks, but it was so nice to see them through my scope with good lighting and comparison birds all around.

Another nice comparative study was one Long-billed Dowitcher that was near many Short-billeds. We noted more of a barring along the inside edge of the scapulars, as compared to the spotted markings of the Short-billed at the same area. There wasn't much of a size difference but the posture was different, with the Long-billed looking more like he had swallowed a big grapefruit. Interesting study!

On our long, hot trek back to the car, we had a really cool sighting of 16 Sandhill Cranes as they flew over the path fairly low and right overhead!  That was exhilerating! And along Wildlife Drive, a juvenile Bald Eagle gave us nice looks as it perched in a tree.

Other notable birds seen on the trip were Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Bonaparte's Gull, a few remaining Black Terns, and a Northern Harrier hunting along Wildlife Drive.

Thank you to the Cayuga Bird Club, the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Jay McGowan, and our leader, Dave Nutter, for a great and informative trip; I learned a lot!

Yesterday, I visited the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant.  There wasn't much in the way of shorebirds, although a Pectoral Sandpiper was new.  The Eared Grebe continues and I enjoyed watching it along with birding friend, Dana.  He came a little closer this visit, so we both got some fair photos of the gorgeous male.

The day before, Celeste and I checked Wood Marsh for shorebirds and found 2 Black-bellied Plovers. The Stilt Sandpiper wasn't seen and numbers, in general, were down.
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Stilt Sandpiper to the left of a Lesser Yellowlegs
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Pectoral Sandpiper to the right of the Ring-billed Gull
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Long-billed Dowitcher
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Long-billed Dowitcher
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Juvenile Bald Eagle
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Juvenile Bald Eagle
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Juvenile Bald Eagle
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Sandhill Cranes
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Sandhill Crane
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Sandhill Crane
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Eared Grebe at BWWTP
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Least Sandpiper at BWWTP
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Distant shot of a Cooper's Hawk after an unsuccessful hunting attempt at BWWTP
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American Kestrel at Iroquois
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Northern Mockingbird at Iroquois
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Great Egret trying to get a catfish down at Wood Marsh
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Caspian Tern at Wood Marsh
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Even poor for a record shot - here's one of the Black-bellied Plovers at Wood Marsh!