Short-billed dowitcher, thoroughly photographed

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Short-billed Dowitcher, with a Willet for size.

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The dowitcher was tagging along behind the bigger bird, on the beach at Hobe Sound NWR, Jupiter Island.

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Cloudy day and my camera settings could have been better. I will learn all that when I’m finished renovating our new house. Yeah, right.

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This is my first dowitcher ID. Bird # 215 on the sidebar.

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Ruddy Turnstones were turning over sargassum in search of snacks. The dowitcher was interested.

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Lots of plastic trash was washing up with this bunch of weed.

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A medium to large shorebird with a long bill, the Short-billed Dowitcher is a common and conspicous migrant that uses a “sewing-machine” method of foraging across the mud flats. Its long bill is short only in comparison with the very similar Long-billed Dowitcher.

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Breeds in muskegs of taiga to timberline, and barely onto subarctic tundra.

Winters on coastal mud flats and brackish lagoons.

In migration prefers saltwater tidal flats, beaches, and salt marshes.

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A flock of Sanderlings arrived at our stretch of beach, with a couple of plovers mixed in.

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I had ID help on Facebook’s What’s This Bird… it’s a Black-bellied Plover, in non-breeding plumage. Latin name Pluvialis squatarola is kind of funny.

  • Wary and quick to give alarm calls, the Black-bellied Plover functions worldwide as a sentinel for mixed groups of shorebirds. These qualities allowed it to resist market hunters, and it remained common when populations of other species of similar size were devastated.

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One of our friends, exploring the beach.

Beach bird walk

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Bathtub Reef Beach on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, Florida last Sunday around noon. Red flag advises against swimming but does not forbid it (that would be two red flags).

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I walked south to the inlet and back, 2.2 miles, for an hour and 45 minutes, watching and counting birds.

Here’s my eBird checklist: Oct 7 Bathtub Beach.

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When little shorebirds are holding still, it’s hard to see them.

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These people walked right past and didn’t seem to notice the plovers.

Fancy houses along the beach here. It’s the gated community of Sailfish Point, right at the southern tip of the island. Can’t get in unless you live there – although you can walk along the beach.

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These are Semipalmated Plovers, a new bird for me.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

A small dark shorebird with a single band across its chest, the Semipalmated Plover is the most common plover seen on migration in most areas.

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Audubon

The most common of the small plovers on migration through most areas. On its breeding grounds in the north, it avoids the tundra habitat chosen by most shorebirds, nesting instead on gravel bars along rivers or ponds. In such surroundings, its seemingly bold pattern actually helps to make the plover inconspicuous, by breaking up its outline against the varied background. The name “semipalmated” refers to partial webbing between the bird’s toes.

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Willets flew in for a short visit.

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A Ruddy Turnstone was digging into a sea turtle shell.

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A sleepy solitary Sanderling was near the turnstone and small flock of plovers.

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The turnstone was very busy.

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I watched it rushing here and there, pushing away bits of sargassum , sticks and shells to see what was underneath.

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“It’s turning ‘stones’ like a turnstone!” I thought.

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Audubon

Best known for habit of inserting bill under stones, shells, etc., and flipping them over to find food underneath. Several birds may work together to overturn a larger object. Often probes under seaweed or debris.

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Gusty east wind and strong surf. Brown Pelican can handle it.

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Brown Pelicans have a wingspan between 6.5 and 7.5 feet. They are the smallest of the eight pelican species, but still very big birds.

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Getting closer to the inlet, I came upon a bird I’ve only seen once before: a Black-bellied Plover.

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It relocated as I walked past on the high part of the beach, but didn’t go far. Nice view of wings and tail.

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Audubon

This stocky plover breeds in high Arctic zones around the world, and winters on the coasts of six continents. Some can be seen along our beaches throughout the year (including non-breeding immatures through the summer). Although the Black-bellied Plover is quite plain in its non-breeding plumage, it adds much to the character of our shorelines with its haunting whistles, heard by day or night.

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Most migrate along coast or over sea, but numbers stop over regularly at some inland sites. Winter range remarkably extensive, from New England and southwestern Canada to southern South America, Africa, Australia.

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The other time I spotted these birds was at Ragged Neck in in New Hampshire in Nov. 2016, along with some Snow Buntings.

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An attractive, large shorebird.

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A couple of guys on jetskis were playing in the waves near the inlet.

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Sanderling in motion!

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I see these sandpipers a lot in non-breeding season.

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You don’t see too many fishermen at this spot since they have to walk a ways to get here.

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Looking across the St. Lucie  inlet from Hutchinson Island to Jupiter Island. And Sanderlings running along the sand.

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Little Blue Herons… an adult on the rocks and an immature in the water. Yes, the young ones are white not “blue”.

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Little Blue strut.

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Sanderlings at rest.

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View west from the inlet. The St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon connect to the Atlantic Ocean here.

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Sandwich Tern, a tern I know thanks to the yellow bill tip!

Birds at Ragged Neck

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Cormorants flying by the jetty on the north side of the entrance to Rye Harbor.

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I finally got a good look at Snow Buntings for the first time last Wednesday, when I took a trip along the coast with my point-and-shoot Canon SX60. One stop was at Ragged Neck, Rye Harbor State Park.

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Had trouble IDing this bird because I was looking in the sandpiper family when it’s in the plover family. Plus it’s not in breeding plumage. It’s a Black-bellied Plover.

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Audubon Guide…

This stocky plover breeds in high Arctic zones around the world, and winters on the coasts of six continents. Some can be seen along our beaches throughout the year (including non-breeding immatures through the summer). Although the Black-bellied Plover is quite plain in its non-breeding plumage, it adds much to the character of our shorelines with its haunting whistles, heard by day or night.

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Winter range remarkably extensive, from New England and southwestern Canada to southern South America, Africa, Australia.

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Black-bellied Plover on a rock, Ragged Neck.

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There were three of these plovers. They walked across the lawn then down onto the rocks and tidepools.

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Black-bellied Plovers.

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There were seven Snow Buntings. Their legs are so short it looks like they are flopped down on their bellies while dining on seeds in the grass.

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Appropriately named, the Snow Bunting is a bird of the high Arctic and snowy winter fields. Even on a warm day, the mostly white plumage of a bunting flock evokes the image of a snowstorm.

Or snow melting from brown fields in spring.

Around here, birders seem to spot them in open grassy areas very near the ocean.