I’m creating a pattern. Every time I have to gas up and run errands in town I walk 10 Mile Beach. I went 50 days between fill ups this time. 56 is my record but 50 is still well above average. I got to Ward Ave a little after 8:00AM. On the rocks just to the south I found 2 first year Red Knots. They were actually a little friendly, a trait I find in many first year birds. This was the first time that I’ve found 2 together. All of my sightings of Red Knots have been single birds. I love the pressed aluminum effect of the feathers on their backs.
These 2 birds were with a flock of Surfbirds and a few Black Turnstones. I have not seen many Surfbirds yet this year. Moving north on the beach and just about even with the end of the of the Haul Rd. I came upon a Black Turnstone and a very “bright” shorebird larger then a peep. Moving closer I noticed that it had a downcurved bill much like a Dunlin but I’ve seen many Dunlin and I knew it wasn’t one. I noticed it’s long black legs and that it was only a little smaller than the Black Turnstone and maybe taller.
A closer look at the bird.
After about four pictures the sandpiper joined a flock of shorebirds flying south. I pondered what it was. I checked the Sibley Bird App on my Itouch. As I continued my walk north on the beach I began to think that I had seen a Curlew Sandpiper but I had not seen the diagnostic white rump. A later review of one of the pictures revealed it’s white rump peeking through it’s wings.
According to “Rare Birds of California” a book by the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC), Curlew Sandpipers, “breeds across arctic Siberia, casually in Norther Alaska.The species winters widely in the Old World, as far north as the British Isles but mostly along tropical and subtropical coasts from sub-Saharan Africa through southern Asia to Australia.” “Since 1971 records have averaged nearly one per year…” Obviously this is one rare bird.
I continued my walk north finding a Pectoral Sandpiper not too much further and then a pair of Baird’s Sandpipers after that. A pair of Baird’s Sandpipers have been on Ten Mile Beach for over 4 weeks. Further still I came upon a banded Snowy Plover that looked injured. I took some pictures. It was limping badly holding one foot up. I call Becky Bowen of SOS and reported it and continued north. Sometime later at Ten Mile River I realized that I had messages on my phone. Service is spotty out there. I called Becky and she said that there was a team of State Parks people working on the Haul Rd. project and that Adam Hutchins had been sent to find and assess the plover. It might be helpful if I could meet him and point out the location which is what I did. He needed is binoculars from his truck so I plover sat for a while keeping one eye on the plover and one eye looking for Blue-footed Boobies that have been invading the California Coast. Adam assessed the plover and with the help of my pictures determined that one of the bands was partially off and pinching the joint between the foot and leg. He made plans to come back the next day for another look. I told him I would download the pictures of the plover and email them. Before I left I told him about the Curlew Sandpiper and I think he was impressed.
UPDATE: Good news. I received word from Adam the next day that the band had come off and the Snowy Plover was using the leg normally.