Morningside Park and Apollo Plaza

Merlin bathing at the Apollo Plaza 8/2/13

Merlin bathing at the Apollo Plaza 8/2/13

Following last nights rain, and with a heads up from Lance Verderame that there were some Least Sandpipers at Apollo this morning, I headed right up to Morningside Park. Kayaking around the islets, it was clear that there was a movement of Least Sandpipers last night. I had 14 worn adults and 2 fresh juveniles, my highest count at this spot so far this fall. The Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Spotted Sandpiper continued. Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher and Green Heron as well as many passerines rounded out the list.
As I started to head back to shore, I heard Killdeer flying in. Four Killdeer were heading in from the Golf Course with another shore bird flying with them. They flew around the lake at quite a distance. The new shore bird was an overall gray-brown in the bright sun with a very white belly. It was just slightly smaller than the Killdeer. The birds banked and flew back to the Golf Course where I was sure I would get an identifying look. Only seconds after landing, they were all flushed by the mowing machine. They flew off in the direction of the college. I eventually went there, but there were no birds of any kind this morning. There have been nearly 50 Killdeer there each day this week, but they were absent today. I returned to Morningside, but did not find the bird. I believe the bird was a Pectoral Sandpiper, by color, size and flight. The only two species that fly with the Killdeer like that at this spot are Semipalmated Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper. All indications are it was a Pec, as it was too large for the plover. Hopefully it is still in the area and I can pick it up on my next trip. From there I went to Apollo Plaza. The Least Sandpipers and Killdeer that Lance saw this morning were gone, and with good reason. The only bird present was a FOS MERLIN taking a bath. Things are definitely picking up.

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