There were also shorebirds – I counted seven Killdeer, two Spotted Sandpipers, four Solitary Sandpipers, two Greater Yellowlegs and two Lesser Yellowlegs. As there isn’t usually much shorebird habitat in these ponds, the Solitary Sandpipers and the two yellowlegs species were also new for my list. When I returned the following day, two Black-crowned Night-herons had joined the birds in the shallow water, and two Least Sandpipers had replaced the Greater Yellowlegs. All of these shorebirds required a scope to identify them, but it was thrilling to see so many species so close to home. On August 6th I stopped by after work and spotted a different shorebird at the very back of the muck in the reeds and was thrilled to identify it as a Wilson’s Snipe, species no. 53! I hoped that the low water levels would last throughout the month and perhaps attract some other shorebirds, but the rain started falling in the middle of the month and the pond quickly filled up again.
When I stopped there on August 9th, it would be for the last time until waterfowl migration began in October. There were still lots of shorebirds, including seven Killdeer, one Spotted Sandpiper, five Least Sandpipers, two Lesser Yellowlegs, and two Solitary Sandpipers close to the little lookout above the sewage pipe! As a result, I was able to get some decent photos of the Solitary Sandpipers. This one was the closer of the two, and I managed to capture it stretching its left wing and leg.
From there I continued on to Andrew Haydon, hoping to see some more shorebirds. When I checked the marsh at the western end I found three: two Spotted Sandpipers and a Least Sandpiper. A Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret were fishing in the bay, while a single Hooded Merganser was swimming close by. I also saw a single Green-winged Teal and two Wood Ducks foraging in the shallow water with the mallards.
I left the river walked around the ponds, where a photographer focusing on something near the bandshell caught my attention. When I approached I saw a juvenile Green Heron hunting in the water in front of the island, and a juvenile Great Blue Heron standing on the slope above it.
The Green Heron was standing motionlessly in the water, occasionally stabbing down into the water to spear a small fish.
Click to enlarge this photo showing a picture of the heron with a small fish in its beak:
While I was watching the Green Heron, I noticed movement from the Great Blue Heron out of the corner of my eye. It was doing a wing stretch, and I managed to capture a couple of images while it was stretching (this photo can also be enlarged):
After taking my fill of pictures, I continued on my walk. I headed back to Graham Creek where I had seen the Elusive Clubtail last weekend. I didn’t see any dragonflies of note this time, but I did spy a Solitary Sandpiper wading in the shallow water.
The usual songbirds were flitting about in the dense line of shrubs that separate the grassy lawn from the creek bed, including a Baltimore Oriole, a couple of Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of Warbling Vireos much higher up in the trees. There were no warbler species among them, either early migrants or post-breeding wanderers, so I left and returned to the ponds. I noticed a family of Canada Geese at the edge of the water with three young birds still in their juvenile plumage. One of the juveniles was still quite small; as all of the geese born this past spring are now almost indistinguishable from their parents (at least when seen from a distance), I figured that one pair had had a second brood.
I decided to end my visit then and, as I headed back to the car, noticed an Osprey hovering above the western pond. I walked over toward it, hoping to capture a photo of it as it scanned the water. Unfortunately it didn’t see any fish in the pond worth catching and flew off toward the river instead. I grabbed this shot as it was leaving:
August is a fun time to go birding. Even if songbird migration hasn’t yet started, the shorebirds are beginning to arrive, and there are plenty of interesting birds around. The juvenile herons fishing along the pond edges of Andrew Haydon Park are always fun to watch, and it’s great to see such a diverse variety of waterfowl. I tallied 26 species in the 80 minutes I was there – not a bad number at all for the beginning of August!