Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Piping Plover Story

Today, I went out to Bunche Beach in Fort Myers, a consistent spot to find decent number of shorebirds.  The last time that I stopped at the beach was a year ago on March 8th, 2010.  I wandered out onto the sandbar and started looking over the hundreds of Sanderling, Dunlin, Piping Plovers, and Least Sandpipers.  After taking a hundred pictures or so I found a Piping Plover with leg bands on it.  I was excited because last year I had also found a plover and had submitted the sighting.  I snapped off a few pictures of the bird and then continued looking at some of the other species.  Upon returning home I looked at the images I had taken today and then looked back at the photos from last year.  See what I found.

2010 banded Piping Plover

2011 banded Piping Plover

In case you can't quite see, they have the same leg ban patterns.  Left leg, upper dark green and lower dark green.  Right leg lower red above blue.  I took pictures of the exact same Piping Plover almost exactly one year later.  I checked through my emails and found the submission from last year and sent out another message with my new sighting.  I received word back within a few hours and learned the following.  "That bird was banded as an adult on the Missouri River in South Dakota during the summer of 2009."  This means that this bird most likely was born at the latest in the summer of 2008, and would mean it's close to 3 if not more years old.  As the email stated, "It's interesting to see these birds return to the same spot during the winter year after year."  For me it's down right amazing!

Here's a few of the other finds of the day.  One bird that I didn't photograph but was a lifer for me was a Caspian Tern, who sat on a distant sandbar and didn't even budge when two Royal Terns stopped in with one begging from the other constantly.

Dunlin (1 of 1000 or so)

Osprey, with a fish to share

Ruddy Turnstone- several were present

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