The Stilt Sandpiper was present at 5:15 this afternoon when Kelly and I made a quick stop at the intersection. It was sleeping when we first arrived and very difficult to pick out of the group of other various Sandpipers. Many Least and a few Western Sandpiper , as well as both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs were present, both Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers and Semipalmated Plovers were in the area as well but in smaller numbers than the Least Sandpipers. We saw no Phalaropes while we were there. At about 5:30 the Stilt Sandpiper and many other birds began to feed more actively and it was much easier to see the various features. We noticed the pronounced white supercilim and chin, darker eye stripe, faint wash of rufous on the crown and auriculars and nape. The drooped bill and forward slanted posture while feeding were also clearly seen.
In preparation for an upcoming field trip with my Palo Alto Adult School birding class, Ashutosh Sinha, my wife Kelly and I scouted out Las Galinas Ponds this morning. We arrived at about 8:00 to find many waterfowl on the first pond. Included in the group was Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Green-winged Teal . Common Moorhen and Black-crowned Night Herons foraged on the opposite shore, and a Belted Kingfisher made a quick pass over the water. Swimming also were Double-crested Cormorant and two juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes . On the wires overhead Violet-green and Barnand a few Northern Rough-winged Swallows perched.
As we walked out to investigate the other ponds we came across many Song Sparrows and several Savannah Sparrows as well. Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat called from the reeds. Ashutosh spotted a Western Grebe as well as a Pied-billed Grebe farther out. As it warmed, various Raptors began to appear. White-tailed Kite , and Red-tailed Hawk, were the first, followed by Northern Harrier (male and imm.) and two Osprey perched on the power line towers. An adult Peregrine Falcon was seen on a distant phone pole. We rounded the last pond finding a Yellow Warbler in a tree by the plastic-lined pools and two Loggerhead Shrike by the steel barn. In this area there were also numerous American Goldfinches and a Barn Owl that seemed eager to find a sheltered place to rest.
Heading back toward the parking area, we saw Green Heron flying out of the marsh. We also took the opportunity to review the Shorebirds by the entrance and found Least and Western Sandpiper, Killdeer. Of course, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron were present as well.
And a not-so-new bit of news: after almost a month of writing and sorting through photos, the Costa Rica trip report is finally posted. In another month I may be able to fix the typos as well... Eventually a complete trip list will be added, but for now its just stories and pictures. Enjoy!