Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shorebirds at Metzger, June 13, 2007

By the time you get to June 13th, shorebird "migrants" at this latitude are starting to be problematic. Some that are around now may still in fact be on their way north to the breeding grounds, and they may still attempt to nest after they arrive there, but others are probably nonbreeders that won't go much farther north and they may just spend the summer here. By the beginning of July, of course, the first southbound migrants will show up -- perhaps birds that failed in their first nesting attempt and didn't have time (in the brief Arctic summer) to initiate a second. A lot of ink and electrons get wasted in attempting to define whether given individual shorebirds in mid to late June are northbound, southbound, or neither. But it's still interesting to see what shorebirds we can find at this time of year.

Kim and I visited Metzger Marsh, Lucas Co., this evening (Wednesday June 13) to check out the flats that had been so good for shorebirds this spring. We were not disappointed, with nine species seen. The Killdeers and Spotted Sandpipers are local breeders, but the other seven species certainly are not:

Black-bellied Plover 3 (all in "winter-like" plumage, undoubtedly young nonbreeders)
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 2
Western Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 3
White-rumped Sandpiper 2
Dunlin 14

White-rumped Sandpiper is a classic late migrant so these birds were very likely still on their way to the Arctic. The most notable bird this evening was undoubtedly the Western Sandpiper. I've been looking at shorebirds closely for the last three years here and this was the first "spring" Western that I had seen in Ohio. According to what I've seen and read, the
species must be pretty rare here in spring, distinctly uncommon in fall, and not expected at all in mid-June. Fortunately this was a well-marked individual in breeding plumage with rusty on the cap and auriculars and scapulars, spotting / streaking on the sides, and very long bill, and we saw it in direct comparison to a Semi and several Dunlins.

Aside from the shorebirds we had no surprises. The resting flock of 40-plus Common Terns included only one Forster's while we were there and no other terns, and the only gulls seen were Herring and Ring-billed. Numbers of Mallards were flying around but we had no other ducks close enough to identify. Great Blue Heron (25), Great Egret (4), and Snowy Egret (1) were the only large waders.

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