Friday, August 14, 2009

Shorebirds at Ottawa NWR

The auto tour at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will be open on Saturday, August 15. I was at the refuge today (Friday the 14th), and found that the best shorebirding along the auto tour route was at MS 3. (To see where this is located, follow the links from the BSBO birding pages for "Birding Hotspots: maps and directions"). To see the birds on MS 3, the best approach is to park near the southeast corner of this impoundment and walk 10 or 20 yards north to a vantage point between the southeast corner of MS 3 and the southwest corner of MS 4. A telescope will be almost essential here.

Shorebirds on this impoundment today included one American Golden-Plover, several Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Pectoral Sandpipers, a few Semipalmated Sandpipers, and large numbers of Least Sandpipers, almost all of the latter being juveniles in beautiful fresh plumage. A Peregrine buzzed the shorebirds here at least once. A few Snowy Egrets were far back on the impoundment with the more numerous Great Egrets, and several Bald Eagles were seen in the area.

Elsewhere on the refuge, I heard Sedge Wrens singing at Stange Prairie at first light, but they were silent when I checked the area again near midday. At least 30 Black-crowned Night-Herons were along the north-south causeway between MS 4 and MS 5. Along the walking trails (away from the auto tour) there are still some shorebirds on Pool 2a, but conditions are becoming less favorable there.

In terms of shorebirds that avoid the shore -- just after noon on the 14th, an American Woodcock was preening out in the open just outside the Window on Wildlife at BSBO. No guarantees that it will show up there again soon, but the observatory will be open on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

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