Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feb 18: Sunshine Coast (Part II)

After spending another great day on the island with Jukka, checking all the great spots between Courtenay-Cumberland-Comox and Campbell River, we headed back over to the mainland... time for another shot at the Rock Sandpiper! We met up with Ilya Povalyaev in Horseshoe Bay then hopped on another ferry to Langdale where Arnold Skei picked us up and took us back to Sechelt. Well... first time no luck; the tide was falling at Mission Point and there were certainly a lot of turnstones and a few surfbirds... but no smaller guys. We hung around for a few hours hoping for the best (as you can see Jukka has a great strategy for spotting rarities), but no luck.

After a while of no-rockies we decided to head into town grab some lunch, then look for the hybrid duck I found earlier in Sechelt Marsh. The Canvasback was still present but unfortunately no weird-looking ducks! After this disappointment, we once again returned to Mission Point where more shorebirds had arrived for low-tide but STILL NO Rocks... So, once again we settled into a sunbathed stake-out, waiting for the best.

After about 30 minutes I glanced up in time to see a single bird fly in to join the feeding frenzy. When the wings flashed prior to landing I didn't notice any distinctive pattern (obvious in both surfbird and turnstone) and the wings appeared short. Could this be one finally??? I ran down to the edge and set up my scope at an angle to minimize the sun-glare. For about 10 minutes I couldn't re-find the bird but all of a sudden through the bins I got onto it, a ROCK SANDPIPER!!! I yelled up to the beach and Jukka and Ilya jogged down to check it out. High-fives all around, then a celebratory beer up on the beach with Arnold who had just returned from checking some other spots to the south.

YESSSSSS!!!!! Good golly molly I was stoked. Before Jukka or I could get good photos the birds all took off to the south, but just before we left to catch the ferry they all returned and this time the flock included at least 7 ROCK SANDPIPERS!

Below is a photograph containing my first ever Rock Sandpiper. For those of you that enjoyed my "find the White-throated Sparrow" or "find the American Bittern" photo quizes, you'll love this more advanced quiz. So, can you find the Rock Sandpiper in this photo (Warning: There are lots of real rocks in this photo as well as a few Black Turnstones)(Hint: It's head may not be visible)

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