Sunday, November 18, 2018

The worst photos you will ever see ...

... of Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus).

On Wednesday, November 7th, leaving home around 6:30 am, I drove out to the spot and saw the bird.  Really a big deal and the first really good chase in Washtenaw County in a very long time.  This much was evident by the fury it created on one of the list serves.  As I was looking at the bird, I realized that I knew none of the other people gathered around to also see it.  The feeling of disconnect from a birding community I had once been so well-acquainted with was obvious.

The bird started out close, but before I could get photos of it in the close spot of the pond, it moved quickly to the back of the pond and behind some stumps and logs.  The light was gray and low so it's likely that my photos would not have been great anyway, but at the back of the pond the deal was done.

I counted five Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) accompanying this bird and so hats off to whoever found it.  It would have been easy to walk away believing only yellowlegs were present in the pond.  Of course, once it revealed its bright orange legs its presence would have been eye popping.  Many excellent photos taken by others reveal the orange legs.

It was an attractive little bird.  I had seen Spotted Redshank before, in breeding plumage, in Bulgaria.  But seeing this bird, so far from it's typical range, I was jarred again by the feeling of the specialness of birds and all they can do and all that happens to them in the course of living their precarious lives.  It paused comfortably behind the stump, preened a little and showed no signs of relocating.  I was underdressed and getting colder and there was no one I knew to talk to and I still needed to go to work.

I was distracted by flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over the road to land in the cornfield beyond the redshank pond (hereupon to always be known as the spotted redshank pond in Washtenaw County).  Time for me to leave and get to work.

Driving east I was so happy that I had got through the morning rush hour traffic to see the bird when I did.  The backup on the westbound I-94 was overwhelming.  I would never have seen the redshank had I left home a 1/2 hour later.  After being present several days, I think the spotted redshank left the pond that night and was not seen on November 8th.  

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