The day before the contest, Clay and I were going to do some scouting and really nail down our plan of attack. However, it was supposed to just pour rain all day. We had heard that a wood sandpiper had been found in neighboring Delaware that Monday. Thursday night, we ran into a colleague who had just come to see the sandpiper. We figured with the weather, the chances were good to see it, so we decided to ditch a scout day and take the ferry from New Jersey to Delaware to see the wood sandpiper. I love being on boats--it always makes the day seem like an adventure with the wind blowing through your hair...even if a fairy is nothing more than an aquatic bus.
When we first arrived at the spot the wood sandpiper was reported, no one was there. Within ten minutes several other people arrived. Apparently, someone reported seeing the sandpiper about 35 minutes before Clay and I arrived. The bird in question kind of looks like a solitary sandpiper but with yellow legs. Everyone was on edge looking for the bird. Clay decided to drive down the road and scout and within 5 minutes he found it and called me. I hitched a ride with a very nice birder I just met and we launched out to see it. The wood sandpiper was so close, I had trouble getting it into my scope.
Here it is! The wood sandpiper...oooo...ahhhh! As the group gathered to see the sandpiper, we started introducing ourselves, we found out where we were all from. When I said that I was from the Twin Cities, they thought I came in for just the bird. I said, "Oh, I'm not that crazy, I'm here for the World Series and this bird is a perk." I can't afford to do that type of chasing. Okay, the above photo is not the best shot, but since Clay had a few minutes alone with the bird before the rest of us arrived, he digiscoped a much better shot:
So, how rare is a wood sandpiper? Well, it's supposed to be in Siberia and parts of Australia and Africa. From time to time, they are reported in the Aleutian Islands. The last recorded sighting in the lower US was in 1990 in New York. The report before that was 1907! This species is more rare than the common crane we saw in Nebraska in March.
Hm. I'm seeing some really unusual and odd birds this year. I almost should be doing a Big Year.