2015-08-19 Saltworks and Shorebirds

Black Turnstone - Arenaria melanocephalaTurn nesting is winding down now at the Saltworks, but the Snowy Plovers still have a few chicks, so there are sections in the southeast part of the reserve where care needed exercising to avoid harming the little fuzzballs. I petitioned to spend my time on the western perimeter, where the lighting is better than trying to shoot into the morning’s sun’s hazy glare. My arrival coincided with the approaching high tide and it may have factored into the birds I was able to meet. Due to isolation of the perimeter shoreline it is sometimes possible to find good numbers of shorebirds on the adjacent muddy beaches, but on this day the numbers were lacking.

The outer (lower) ponds still had pockets of rafting phalaropes and eared grebes. On the shoreline along the ponds Western Sandpipers were fairly numerous, but the Least Sandpipers seemed to prefer the bay shores. Willets, godwits and gulls don’t seem to have any preference on which shores they attend. The Black-Necked Stilt chicks I saw were all big enough to fly and I saw most of them near the Snowy Plover area in the southeast corner along with peeps and avocets. The pond adjacent to the northeast perimeter road seemed rich in castings of brine fly eggs, attracting Wilson’s Phalaropes, Western Sandpipers and Black Turnstones. I did not walk the interior levees, but Robert said he saw a distant Baird’s Sandpiper which did not stick around for a closer look. Double-Crested Cormorants continue to roost on the old derrick. That their presence may be sensed by smell alone is not surprising, considering how many years of nesting that has taken place here.

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