Mon 5 Dec 2016
After ferrying me out to Bulls Island Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson joined me for Saturday's waterfowl/shorebird survey. We found some returning ducks and most of the usual winter-resident shorebirds.
We tallied 37 species on the survey proper. Interesting avian sightings included many Pied-billed Grebes, an American Bittern, a Reddish Egret, many Bufflehead, a pair of American Black Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Great Black-backed Gulls, a Bonaparte's Gull, American White Pelicans, and Red-throated Loon and Bald Eagle (seen from the ferry). Interestingly there was only one Sanderling and no teals of either persuasion.
Of particular interest were six Piping Plovers, two of which were banded/flagged. Fortunately we found BO:X,g, aka Old Man Plover, and were able to follow up on our last sighting when he had an offending piece of vegetation stuck under some of his leg bands. See the 18 Nov 2016 blog for details and photo of the offending stick. By this Saturday BO:X,g had apparently shed the offending stick. He was, however, still favoring that L leg. He appeared to hold it off the ground some but I could still see his foot rather than having his foot fully withdrawn under his ventral feathers. He did seem to use the "sore" leg in walking but seemed to hold up that leg when standing still.
I emailed the bander, Alice Van Zoeren, with this update on BO:X,g and received this in partial reply: "Standing on one leg is a pretty typical behavior even without any injury. He does that all the time (see attached summer photo) as do all the other plovers. Sometimes one will hop on one leg for hours while feeding, preening, sleeping...and then switch legs. It will be good to keep an eye on his movement when you see him over the winter, but I'll bet the leg is fine if he's using it while walking."
BO:X,g, aka Old Man Plover, 15 Apr 2016 having just arrived back on his breeding grounds at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI. Photo by Alice Van Zoeren.
The other banded/flagged PIPL is also one of Alice's birds. "The other plover you saw is also from the Great Lakes. This one hatched in 2015 at Muskegon, MI. He returned to breed in 2016 in Illinois near the Wisconsin border at Illinois Beach State Park. It was an exciting expansion of nesting plovers back into historic nesting territory."
Non-avian sightings on interest on the survey included canine tracks, hordes of mosquitoes hiding in the lee of the bushes, American alligators, and Atlantic bottle nose dolphin.
Looking ahead at the tidal calendar, and Christmas Bird Count calendars, suggests the following date to consider for our next survey:
Sat 17 Dec 2016 high tide forecast 5.9 ft at 10:06 AM