Date: 7/23/20 8:19 am
From: Charlie Nims <charlie.nims...>
Subject: [NHBirds] Long-billed Dowitcher
Yesterday, I had an interesting experience. Due to several factors, I was not going to go birding but by noon I could not longer resist so headed south to the Rochester WTP where a Little Blue Heron (LBHE) has been hanging out (between there and Pickering Ponds). I got there mid-afternoon and fairly quickly found the LBHE at the far end near the fence bordering Pickering Ponds—where it flew while I was there. But, there were lots of shorebirds, primarily Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper and Killdeer along with two Lesser Yellowlegs and at least two Semipalmated Sandpipers. On the way back to my vehicle, I saw a Short-billed Dowitcher that I must have missed on the way out as I was focusing on the LBHE.

End of story . . . but not quite: when I got home and downloaded my photos, I started having second thoughts about the dowitcher as it looked as though it could be a breeding plumage Long-billed Dowitcher (LBDO) given its bright rusty red chest and belly extending all the way to its undertail coverts. It was a tough call so I shared several photos with some other birders who were either uncertain as well or leaned toward LBDO. I received, however, a positive LBDO ID response from Louis Bevier with excellent descriptions of the feathering pattern, etc. from which I have learned a lot about the differentiation of the two dowitcher species we can get here in NH. He also cautioned about using the “hump” feature as an ID characteristic rather that one should focus on the feathering pattern. So in the end, while I did get the Little Blue Heron, the best takeaway was how to better ID dowitchers.

Full report and photos on eBird.

On the way back to Bartlett, I did stop at Meadow Brook marsh to look for the reported Sedge Wren but did not find it. I actually hiked along the tree line out 100+ yards to where the marsh turns ~southwest in order to get away from the road traffic noise. I did not hear any wrens just basically Swamp Sparrows although the lack of species might have been due to a perched Merlin at the edge of the marsh.

Charlie Nims
Bartlett, NH

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