Skip to main content

Calico Bird

Harlequin-patterned and ornate, Ruddy Turnstones rank high among my favorite shorebirds. They are also nice in that turnstones offer up no identification problems, something that cannot be said of some of their brethren. In fact, I saw the subjects of this blog while chasing a sandpiper that was reported as a Little Stint, at Conneaut Harbor, Ohio. As more details, and especially some exceptional photos, have emerged it has become apparent that the stint was actually a bright juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. Oh well, these things happen and stints/peeps are among the more challenging groups of birds to sort out.

Gorgeous adult Ruddy Turnstone roots about the mud of Conneaut Harbor. Tame and confiding, turnstones often allow close approach. Breeding as they do in the highest reaches of the Arctic, they're probably not very familiar with people and may view us as large, strange, lumbering oddities rather than threats.

Ah, the harbor at Conneaut is not exactly pristine wilderness. Populated by beer-swilling yahoos, trash-tossing cretins, and off-roading ATV'ers, the sand flats are lively on warm summer days. But the birds eke out a place amongst the detritus and rabble-rousers. These two parti-colored turnstones forage against the backdrop of a discarded Squirt carton, joined by three other species of sandpipers: Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Sanderling. All are globe-trotters, and all will have traversed thousands of miles before the year is out.



The above video shows a couple of foraging turnstones, and some of their beachmates. Pardon the wind noise - it is often breezy out there and my camera's mike is sensitive. The supporting cast includes Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Sanderling, and Semipalmated Plover.

Turnstones are feathered piglets, at least in regards to their feeding mannerisms. Like ill-mannered little bulls, they rush around, rudely knocking other 'pipers aside as they snuffle about. Their bills are wide, flattish and spadelike, and the turnstones use them to great effect to cast debris and soil aside to uncover whatever delectables may be hiding beneath. Occasionally I notice other lesser beasts such as Least Sandpipers seemingly lurking close at hand, apparently taking advantage of missed treats uprooted by the turnstones.

You can see several instances of the turnstones using their bills like a shovel, rushing some favorable spot and sending little explosions of sandy mud flying as they excavate the turf. I have watched Ruddy Turnstones find an especially attractive spot and excavate holes nearly as large as themselves.

Even without the thrill of a stint, there were plenty of nice consolation prizes such as the calico birds.

Comments

Ecesis Factor said…
thanks for a lovely intro to these birds.
Jack said…
Good to see this bird..I love all your pictures..u got a huge skill..keep it going..
--
Jack
Home Security Systems no CREDIT CHECK everyone is approved

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…