Date: 12/3/17 4:46 am From: Nate Dias (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...> Subject: American Golden-Plover, Roseate Spoonbills, White Pelicans, Avocets, Prairie Warbler, sparrows, ducks - Yawkey Wildlife Center (restricted access)
Yesterday's shorebird survey at the Yawkey Wildlife Center produced some things I have never seen before. Arch McCallum and John Cox joined me and were both very helpful to the effort. We were sorry Will Post came down with a cold the day before and could not join us.
One "first" was a December AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER. It was foraging in a drained ricefield impoundment and showed a very thin + delicate bill, dark cap, pale supercilium, and lack of dark axillary patches. It also had pale plumage highlights that at times appeared slightly buffy and I am sure on a less cloudy, dim day would have looked buffy or slightly golden. I got some distant documentary photos in the dim light. I was unable to get a raised-wing photo but Arch and John watched it through scopes and saw that key feature while I was working on photographing it. We got to compare it to adjacent Black-bellied Plovers and the differences in bill proportions, head shape, etc. were stark.
Another "first" was a Piping Plover feeding in a drained ricefield! I have never seen a Piping Plover in such a setting. When we first saw it, the combination of the unexpected location and some plumage anomalies had us really intrigued. But there doesn't seem to be any other possibility than Piping Plover. It was a PIPL in all respects but had legs that at times appeared yellowish and other times appeared very pale pink/tan. It also had dark coloration along the folded edge of the wing - something going on with primary wear or something. It also had more gray coloration on the face than expected - between the eye and the bill, etc. It was hanging out with lots of Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlin, and Western Sandpipers in a newly drained ricefield 1.3 kilometers from the nearest beach as the plover flies. Its presence there might be from the astronomical tide that had flooded most of Sand Island - a traditional shorebird (and PIPL) high tide roost at the mouth of Winyah Bay (1.3km from the impoundment).
Some cloudy-day documentary photos of the Golden-Plover and ricefield Piping Plover are on my Flickr page:
Other highlights included Roseate Spoonbills (on both Cat Island and South Island), American Avocets, American White Pelicans, a nice male Prairie Warbler, scope views of a Nelson's Sparrow, Seaside Sparrows, huge numbers of wading birds (1000s of White Ibis), Wood Storks, Glossy Ibis, good numbers of Bald Eagles, and more.
Unfortunately we dipped on the Eurasian Wigeon that has been present recently.
* Like Jeff Lewis' report from Pea Island, there are a lot of ducks present at certain highly favored sites in coastal SC. We had well into 5 figures of ducks of the following species: Wood Duck, Gadwall (thousands), American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mottled Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck (thousands).
We had 17 shorebird species for the day without making it to the beach - Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, Killdeer, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Common Snipe.