Shorebirding Stillwater


For years, I’ve been checking the Meridian Technology Center pond in Stillwater for migrating shorebirds. This pond occasionally has some nice ducks in the winter, and supports most of our local Canada Geese. It’s usually good for a Great Blue Heron, but rarely do I find any shorebirds other than an occasional Spotted Sandpiper and, of course, Killdeer. This summer though, things seem different.

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs at Teal Ridge Wetland, April 2011.

Again, our prolonged drought is to blame. Traditional staging wetlands for migrating shorebirds are simply not available this summer. Shorebirds are bypassing their usual ephemeral, shallow water habitats for the shores of ponds, lakes, and rivers.

Teal Ridge "Wetland" on Sep. 3, 2011.

These muddy spots were the only thing resembling water at Teal Ridge on Saturday.

One result? It looks like this season we’ve got a reliable spot for shorebirding in Stillwater. Highlights have included Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden Plover, but it’s really the number of different species that catches your eye.

American Golden Plover at Meridian Tech Center pond.

I found the following on Saturday morning – our (hopefully!) final day of 100+ F temperatures:

Canada Goose 175
Blue-winged Teal 7
Northern Shoveler 2
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 3
Mississippi Kite 1
Killdeer 8
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 3
Pectoral Sandpiper 2
Stilt Sandpiper 20
Buff-breasted Sandpiper 1
Wilson’s Phalarope 15
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2
Barn Swallow 3
European Starling 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Great-tailed Grackle 15
House Sparrow 2

A front finally came through Saturday night, and by Sunday morning, temperatures were in the 60s with a brisk north wind and intermittent showers. I went back Sunday morning and found these birds (with help from two accomplices):

Canada Goose 178
Blue-winged Teal 130
Northern Shoveler 2
Pied-billed Grebe 31
Eared Grebe 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 2
Cattle Egret 1
White-faced Ibis 1
American Golden-Plover 1
Killdeer 11
American Avocet 2
Least Sandpiper 21
Baird’s Sandpiper 1
Pectoral Sandpiper 3
Stilt Sandpiper 12
Buff-breasted Sandpiper 3
Franklin’s Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 9
Barn Swallow 5
Eastern Meadowlark 1

Shorebirding from what should be the normal shoreline at the Meridian Tech Center pond.

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This entry was posted in animal behavior, birding, birds/nature, environment, migrants, weather, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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