Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Spotted Sandpiper protecting its nest

I spend a lot of time walking along rivers, streams and ponds but this is the first year I have really noticed the plain brown birds along the edges of the waterways. In the spring I watched a group of little birds fly up as I walked unknowingly toward them. I was looking for swallows in the air, but looking down, I was surprised at the number of birds feeding in the mud. Kildeer (or Killdeer) are commonly seen and bring noisy attention to themselves.

Solitary Sandpiper (possibly)

I figured all shorebirds were big and easy to see. But the ones around here are small and easy to miss as they blend into their surroundings so well.

Least Sandpiper (possibly)

During spring migration I saw a few species on their way to their northern nesting grounds. And are they ever confusing to identify! Are the legs yellow or brown or grey? What about the beak, the spots, the peeping sound?

Semi-palmated Sandpiper (possibly)

Spotted Sandpipers nest in this area and I see them often enough that I recognize them easily now. Scanning partially submerged logs or looking on muddy flats with binoculars usually brings them into view.

Spotted Sandpiper (for sure!)

This week I was walking along a meadow and saw a Spotted Sandpiper sitting high atop a dead Mullein flower stalk. It was making quite a racket. Just when I was getting used to looking down for these birds, there was one perched high above the meadow. Apparently they are one of a very few species of birds where the males care for the young as females have more than one mate.

This male was on the look out as I approached the nest which was at least 250 m from the river's edge . While not as dramatic as a Kildeer, it certainly made its presence known.

I will have to study the bird guides and be more prepared for these plain birds as they move south this fall.


  1. Lovely shots of the shore birds. Makes me want to take a trip to the ocean.

  2. The whole group of shorebirds are a mystery to me. I really need to jump in and try to learn a few.

  3. Fun post Ruth! You're fortunate to have some wetland areas nearby--that makes it easier to advance in your shorebird education studies!

  4. Ruth,

    Lovely photos. I always enjoy my visits here. There is so much solitude and tranquility. I love exploring along creeks, rivers and around ponds.

    Take care. I hope you had some fun on Canada Day.


  5. Anonymous6:29 pm GMT-4

    Great pics! Shore birds are fun to watch and to follow their tracks in the mud.

    I'm trying to figure out where you have taken these pictures. Is it along the Grand by Freeport? I would love to visit that spot and see if I can capture some sightings of those birds.

  6. I have never figured out the killdeer, which is a shorebird, but raises its family here by the side of the road in the gravel, away from any water. They are noisy, both day and night!

  7. Always enjoy your pictures and learn something, too!

  8. That is such the perfect Spotted Sandpiper photo! BRAVO!

  9. Boy, they do blend into their surroundings well, don't they? :c) I don't see many shore birds where I am. Love your photos Ruth.

  10. NCMW- I am sure the ocean has shorebirds that would confuse me even more!

    Lynne- I can positively ID one!

    Ruthie- These "wetlands" are small storm ponds right in the city.

    Mary- thanks! My fun on Canada day was a 2.5 hour trail walk on a gorgeous day.

    Cheryl- All these pictures except the perched Sandpipers were taken at the U of W in the small ponds near the new technology park and Columbia Lake. The perched SPs were on the Walter Bean trail near the very end of Fairway Rd and Zeller Dr. This is not far from Freeport and the trail is opposite the WW Airport. When I return from vacation you should email me (see my complete profile) if you are interested in meeting sometime.

    Jan- The Kildeer in our neighbourhood have no water except for vernal ponds in the spring. They have adapted well to city life.

    Jean- Thanks!

    Monarch- I was fortunate to see the Sandpiper up high in good light. Thanks!

    Jayne- They do blend into their environment perfectly. I have to watch for movement.

  11. It's fun to learn a "new" group of birds, isn't it? I'm still learning to figure out which shorebirds are which. It's not easy trying to differentiate between all those sandpipers and plovers. Great job, Ruth, and great photos.


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