Sunday, September 08, 2013

A strange TERN of events...

A Little Gull was reported by another birder yesterday morning at East Fork State Park Beach.  I had to work, so I couldn't get there until evening.  I did not find a Little Gull, but did find the winter plumage Forster's Tern that has been there since at least last Thursday.

This morning (Sunday), I was off work, so I arrived at about 9am at the beach at East Fork.  There were already about 5 or so birders with scopes looking at a bird.  I was hoping that it was a Little Gull, as I have only seen one and it was far away.  This bird was resting on the sand.  Since I have had my scope stolen, I had only binos and my camera.  A couple of birders asked if I would like to see the Little Gull, so I of course said yes.  The only thing is, the bird I was looking at was not a Little Gull.  In fact, it wasn't a gull at all.
They had a few field guides opened to Little Gull on an old water fountain.  I began to suggest other possibilities that the bird might be.  I turned the guide to terns and offered just a little of my opinions.  I was in the minority slightly at first.  I could tell that the birders that were convinced that it was indeed a Little Gull were getting a little uneasy and upset.  I then started to talk to the other birders that were there.  I recognized  one of the birders.  I began to discuss why I felt the bird was what it was and he began to see why I came to the conclusion that the bird was a Forster' Tern in winter plumage.  Another birder also agreed that it was indeed a Forster's Tern.  The couple that never would disclose their name to me left as the talk of the bird being a tern heated up.  Here is the bird that was causing all this confusion:


Forster's Tern


Forster's Tern

Forster's Tern


While I don't have a picture of a Little Gull, there was a Bonaparte's Gull nearby.  I told them that the Little Gull would be more similar to the Bonaparte's than to this bird.  This is the BONAPARTE'S that was nearby.

Bonaparte's Gull

There are some "Jizz" differences here.  I often suggest to people that they just zoom out or just observe the bird through their binos only for a while.  The couple that insisted that the bird was a Little Gull was so stuck on minor details that they did not look at the overall bird.  The tail I remember was a sticking point.  They did not see the streamers that the bird would have in breeding plumage.  This alone would not be enough to make it not a tern.  White feathers contain no melanin, so they are weak.  This means that the feathers most likely are worn down by now, giving the bird a short tailed look.  

I do not know if the bird above (tern) is the bird the original birder misIDed or not.  I do not recognize the name.  

After everyone but me and one other birder left, things got real interesting.  I started just talking with the other birder when I noticed a long necked shorebird just beyond the gulls.  This little spot on the corner of the beach has been very productive in the past.  I told the other birder I was with that I think I see something of interest over there.  We decided to get a little closer and check it out.  I originally thought that the bird may be a Pectoral Sandpiper, but it just looked too big and long necked.  As we got closer, I said to him "that's an UPLAND SANDPIPER!"  That would be a life bird for me.  

We quickly noted that the bird had an injured wing, as it was dragging it.  The bird attempted to swim away like a duck would swim, but turned around and went into the deep vegetation.  We were able to get a few photos of the bird.  Very sad to see such a nice looking bird in such situation.  Just hope it stays away from the off leash dogs.

Here are the photos that I was able to obtain.  The bird was kinda of skittish, so we kept our distance.  Being injured, I didn't want to stress the bird anymore than it already was. 

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

When I got home, I checked the Birding Ohio Facebook Group and found that the local Wild Birds Unlimited store had received a call about an injured Upland Sandpiper in Bethel, Ohio.  This is very close to where this bird is.  I talked to the staff person who took the call, a birder friend, who told me that the bird was found in a yard yesterday and that the bird was sent to rehabbers.  Whether this is a different bird or not I do not know.  For now, I can only assume that it is not the same bird.  The bird headed deep into the vegetation, and despite my looking for it, I could not re-find it.  

A very strange tern of events indeed...

Update: This evening (Sept. 13th), I was at East Fork and Ginny Fantetti and Rob Edelen showed up. I have known Ginny for a while and know that she is familiar with rehabbing and the methods used from her work with Raptor, Inc. She came up with a plan and we successfully executed it in short order and the bird was caught without incident. The bird appeared to have a broken wing. It is now in the process of being turned over to the rehabber.  

Update #2 from Ginny Fantetti: "The sandpiper was delivered to Back to the Wild rehabilitation center in Castalia, OH yesterday (an all-day road trip). They have the resources and facilities to get proper care for it and will be able to keep it as a permanent educational display bird if it can't be released. I'm glad it didn't come to an ugly end at the hands of one of the many off-leash dogs or stray cats at the beach at East Fork."

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Glad the story came to a good ending.  Also glad it is over!

2 comments:

  1. looking at the tail, that bird can be none other than a eurasian collared dove

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