The family took a few days and made a road trip to Gulf Shores, AL. Most of the time was spent lounging on the beach, but for the first couple of hours each day I went birding. You gotta love the Central Time Zone for birding in the morning.
I birded a local preserve, a National Wildlife Refuge, and the beach outside the condo. Each has its own story and I’ll be relating them over the next few weeks.
I think I’ve related previously I’m at that stage of birding where I won’t be seeing many new life birds East of the Rockies. This trip had three possibilities – BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH was possible, SNOWY PLOVER would be a long shot, and SWALLOW-TAILED KITE that would have taken work. And since this was a family vacation I wasn’t going to work hard for birds.
I did see a SNOWY PLOVER – For all of 30 seconds.
The Snowy Plover was seen on the shoreline at the Bon Secour National Refugee. I had planned to bird around Fort Morgan State Historic Site but nowhere in their webpage did I noticed they didn’t open until 8AM. And I checked.
So I went back to Bon Secour where I was going to stop anyway.
With the approaching storm I decided to walk the shoreline looking for shorebirds, particular SANDERLINGS.
Mainly though there were gulls and terns flying along the edge of the Gulf.
Walking along the beach I came across a WILLET. I was up in the sand away from the water as it walked along the water’s edge.
While watching the Willet a jogger flushed a small bird that flew in about 20 feet away. At first it didn’t notice me which gave me a few seconds to positively ID it and take a few photos.
At first I thought it was going to be a lone Sanderling but I immediately knew it was a Snowy Plover. Dark Bill, half chest band, dark legs, and most importantly it blended in with the sand. If I hadn’t seen it fly in I don’t think I would have noticed it.
It didn’t take long for it to notice me standing close. After 20-30 seconds it did and flew away. I watched it fly up the beach but the distance and the approaching storm put off a chase.
And that leaves one.
The Mountain Plover is the only regularly occurring plover in the lower US that I haven’t seen.
For comparison of features following are photos of other small plovers I’ve seen over the years.