Tuesday, August 9, 2011

American Avocet in Leamington

While driving on hwy #3 today, I noticed a large shorebird in a newly excavated area in field about 400m west of Talbot Rd East in Leamington.  I stopped to check it out and wow... American Avocet. I wanted to high-five somebody when I saw this bird, but I was by myself on the shoulder of highway three... lol.

I think this is a female Avocet. Female Avocets have a sharp curve near the last 1/3rd of their bills, as opposed to males that have an upward curve through the whole bill. Any thoughts?
It was a tricky day for photography, every 5 minutes it went from being sunny and bright to cloudy and dark. I found myself constantly switching my white balance from cloudy to sunny, then ISO from 200 <-->800. I've never worked so hard to take a photo of a bird! These Avocet photos are not that great, but at least they are diagnostic.
More on the American Avocet : http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Avocet/lifehistory.

I went on to look at Hillman Marsh which had many Egrets and Herons, but not much else of interest. The shorebird cell is completely dry. I can't understand why the shorebird cell is dry with major migration taking place in August and September. Does it cost ERCA money to flood this field?


Earlier on in the day, I visited Tilbury S.L., which had a good assortment of shorebirds... Nothing new though.
Some included...

Long billed Dowitcher
Short billed Dowitcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plover
Spotted Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Good Birding!

Lifer Summary:
Lesser Black Backed Gull (correction, never counted #276)
Semipalmated Plover (Correction, never counted #277)
American Avocet #278


  1. You lucky dog! Haven't seen an Avocet for a couple of years!

  2. How cool to get a lifebird like that! I also have not seen an Avocet in a very long time. My first ones were in New Mexico at Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

    Can you tell Long-billed from Short-billed Dowitchers? We thought we knew one from the other based on Peterson's pictures, but were told by more experienced birders that we'd gotten it wrong. So now we are very confused.

  3. Great find, Dwayne! A very cool way to get a lifer.

  4. Awesome find! The high five comment gave me a laugh because I have found myself in this situation so many times, super excited and looking over my shoulder for someone to share in what I'm seeing.

  5. Thanks for the comments guys, I consider these to be virtual high-5's ...lol. Kiki, you asked a great question about long vs short billed dowitchers. Its really hard to tell in the field. Short billed dowitchers have bills that are slightly decurved and long billed are perfectly straight. See this article for a good writeup on this topic: http://www.surfbirds.com/ID%20Articles/dowitchers1005/dowitchers.html



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