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24 July 2010 @ 08:41 pm
An Evening Walk at Shirley's Bay  

On Thursday an amazing report came in from Bruce DiLabio regarding shorebirds he had seen at Shirley's Bay. At 7:00 a.m. he had counted six worn adult Red Knots, three Stilt Sandpipers, one Short-billed Dowitcher, 80+ Semipalmated Sandpiper, 48 Lesser Yellowlegs, 11 Greater Yellowlegs, one Pectoral Sandpiper, nine Least Sandpipers, three Solitary Sandpipers, and one Wilson's Snipe at the mudflats, and two American Woodcocks along the trail! He also reported five Great Egrets and 15+ Great Blue Herons feeding in the bay.

Deb saw the report as well and so we decided to meet at the boat launch after work. The woodcock would be a lifer for both of us, and I was eager to see the Stilt Sandpipers and the Red Knots as it's been a while since I've seen either of those speecies.

Sunset at Shirley's Bay

We kept our eyes open for the woodcocks along the trail through the forest, especially near the puddles that seem to gather there no matter how dry it's been. An Eastern Wood-pewee and a Wood Thrush serenaded us as we walked to the dyke, but of the two woodcocks there was no sign.

Likewise, there was no sign of the Stilt Sandpipers or the Red Knots when we reached the dyke. The sun was low in the western sky, which made it difficult to scan the flocks on the mudflats as the light was shining in our eyes and many of the birds appeared backlit. However, we were able to pick out one Pectoral Sandpiper, one Solitary Sandpiper, a couple of Spotted Sandpipers, both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, a ton of peeps, several Great Blue Herons, a couple of egrets, and even a Merlin in a tree on the opposite shore! When the Merlin took flight, all the shorebirds flew up into the air and wheeled about over the bay. It took a long time for them to settle, and even when they did we didn't have any luck coming up with any different species.

Because of the poor light, I didn't photograph any of the birds. However, as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, the clouds became beautifully lit from behind. I decided to take a few pictures of the sunset and the evening moon instead.