Tuesday, August 26, 2014

At long last, Leasts

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Least Sandpipers, Spuyten Duyvil Creek
without context, they don't seem so small

Shorebirds are hard to find in Manhattan. Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers usually come through central Park on migration, and you can find Kildeer on Randall's Island sometimes, but for the most part you need to get out of Manhattan for them--Jamaica Bay, for example.

So it was interesting when people started reporting Least Sandpipers in Spuyten Duyvil Creek at Inwood Hill Park a couple of weeks ago. I went up there several times, and gazed upon mud flats filled with...gulls. Hmph.

Finally, last Thursday, I went up again at low tide. I walked around the cove and the Muscota Marsh that Columbia University is restoring. No sandpipers in sight. I rested on a bench a while, made some phone calls, got ready to go home. When I arose to take a last look at the cove as the tide came in, I say little birds scrambling around on the mud. Sandpipers, huzzah!

Six of them , Least Sandpipers with greenish legs, thin bills, sort of blurry streaking across the breast. Very cute, running around probing the mud, sometimes running into each other when they got out of the way of a larger bird passing through.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Duck and Least Sandpipers, Spuyten Duyvil Creek
with context, you see why they're the Least Sandpipers

This shot with the duck strolling by will give you an idea of their size. Teensy little birds.

Since then, I've been seeing reports of Semipalmated Sandpipers in the creek, and Semipalmated Plovers across the island in Sherman Creek Park, so I'll have to try to get up there again soon.

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