Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Snowy Plover search on Jekyll

On New Years Eve I worked at Wild Bird Unlimited Nature Shop on Jekyll Island. Before I went to open up the shop I did a too quick search for the Snowy Plover. I didn’t find it. It is amazing the riot of emotions that you go through when you look for rare birds. I went the path hopeful and I came back the path out bummed. I missed it. Gary and Janie Smith are great folks. They own this shop. Back in the summer we agreed that I would help with the shop. I became their Chief Naturist and Artist in Resident. It has been interesting seeing what kind of folks visit the shop as a sample of those who visit Jekyll.

When I told them my sad tale of missing the bird, Gary jump right in and relieved me so I could run down and see the bird. This time I was lucky. The bird was there! Elation & excitement Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then panic for as soon as I found the bird of course there was a dog off leash running right into the plover group. No No No! It couldn’t be. Were the birds gone? Then I saw the bird in the dunes. Yea!!!!!!!!!!!! In my joy of moment, I signaled at a group of people coming toward me. They had binoculars. “Come see this bird.” They must have thought I had gone mad for they were a little unsure whether not to approach this idiot with the big grin. They reluctantly came closer. “There a Snowy Plover! I got it in my scope. Come see.”

They were relieved to find I was sane.

Perfect! It makes it even better when you can share the rare bird moment with someone. I then told them about the large flock of skimmers and the 15 American Avocets. They seemed pleased and
I floated back to the shop. There, I shared the picture I took of the birds. . Thanks Gary for letting me sneak away and to Walt Chambers for finding and reporting this bird.
This bird puts a good ending to a whirl wind year.


revpatstew said...

I was so glad to see your pictures. While I was birding on St. Simons Sunday, I met a couple of men who told me about the snowy plover. I knew nothing about Jekyll, but the guys gave me good directions. My husband and I had planned to drive back to Winston-Salem, NC, our home early Monday morning, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to see a life bird. So we searched for two hours and had even folded up the spotting scope. Then we saw a group of birds and took one last look and there it was, in with a group of pipers. Never having seen a snowy plover before and having no other birders around, I had no confirmation. But your pictures did the trick. I also saw a plover that looked very much like Wilson's -- larger black bill and a little bit larger body than the pipers and snowy. But I know that Wilson's usually stay on the lea side of the dunes. So I thought about a golden plover or black-bellied, but they are even larger and more gray. Any help here? If so, please reply at revpatstew@earthlink.net. Thanks.
Pat Stewart

Lydia said...

Hi Pat,
A Wilson Plover is a real possibly. American Golden Plover is a rare bird here so it would be a great find. Black-bellied Plover would be much larger about twice the size. I am always amazed at how big Black-bellied Plovers really are. The back has a strong pattern to it. Wilson’s would look just a little larger and more solid medium brown back. They can be on the beach anywhere but they do love the south end of Jekyll. I hope this helps a little. Thank you Lydia