Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Shorebirds Just Keep Coming

Everyone who goes to the beach has noticd the tiny sandpipers that run along the beach, chasing the waves as they wash out, then retreating as they crash back in to shore. Those very common birds are sanderlings.

What an odd sight last week when four sanderlings were found on a mudflat on the Catawba river near Belmont, for only the second local record in over twenty-five years. Seeing birds so far out of their preferred or normal habitat can make even serious, experienced birders do a double take.

Birders ticking off the sanderlings for their county or year lists were also treated to another extremely rare local shorebird, a buff-breasted sandpiper. This species typically is found in short-grass habitats, but there one was on a mudflat with a flock of killdeer.

It is going to be very interesting to see how many species of shorebirds end up getting tallied in Mecklenburg in 2015. there are several species whose occurrence here is a real possibility.

Sanderling by John Ennis
 Even non-birders have noticed sanderlings rapidly scampering along the ocean's edge, but their occurrence inland is  much rarer.

The buff-breasted sandpiper is more commonly found in short grass areas, as pictured below.

Buff-breasted sandpiper by Phil Fowler