Over the last few weeks, I've had a few good highlights at Glendale, and I was able to capture some of them on camera. One of those highlights was finding a Marbled Godwit (two actually). I don't see this species in Maricopa County in the fall as much as I do in the spring, although they still do pass through in the fall. In this picture, a Marbled Godwit is foraging with a few Long-billed Dowitchers.
American Avocets are always a sight to see, whether in or not in breeding plumage. These noisy birds have been quite numerous at Glendale lately and have also molted in their non-breeding plumage for the most part. There are a few individuals who don't want to go out of breeding plumage quite yet. This photo makes for somewhat of a compare and contrast picture between the two plumages.
My favorite find out here during these few weeks of scanning and birding for shorebirds was finding two Baird's Sandpipers that were very cooperative and close to the shore. This is a species I haven't been able to photograph very well until these two birds showed up in front of me. The Baird's Sandpiper is a species that breeds in coastal tundra way far north in North America. It never ceases to amaze me that these birds have flown miles and miles south from their northern ranges to be at these ponds during migration. The Baird's Sandpiper is a larger "peep" sandpiper, and they have very long wings whose primaries project well beyond their tail-tip. In the series of photos below, the long primary projection past the tail is very evident. Due to the birds long wings, it gives the Baird's Sandpiper a very "slender" look in it's appearance.
This is a Least Sandpiper, and it is the smallest shorebird in the world.
The Least Sandpiper is 6" in length, and the Baird's Sandpiper is 7.5" in length. The Baird's Sandpiper is a pretty small bird too, but when it flies side-by-side with a Least, it looks like a giant.
It's pretty remarkable to see our smallest sandpiper being looked down upon by our largest sandpiper. Size difference among species is what make families such as shorebirds a very exciting one!
This is one of my favorite shorebirds. It's weird but very awesome, and it usually makes it's presence known by it's loud call. Sound the alarm, Long-billed Curlew!
In my visits, a single Long-billed Curlew has made an appearance on three different occasions. I've heard it every time before I have caught sight of it.
Here is the difference between a Killdeer and Semipalmated Plover (insert words.....)
Speaking of Semipalmated, I also found a bird I've been looking for this year finally only a couple of days ago at the pond. And that is the Semipalmated Sandpiper. These birds can be tough to identify sometimes from the similar Western Sandpiper, unless the bill on the Semipalmated is very short like this one. Otherwise, there is a lot of overlap in the two species' bill sizes. Gosh, the fun of birding id's.
Here is a comparison with a nearby Western Sandpiper.
On one of the days, I was photographing two Lesser Yellowlegs. Little did I know until I got home, I got photobombed by a third Lesser Yellowlegs. Too bad my camera didn't focus in the one in-flight.
Willets are always nice to find at the Glendale Recharge Ponds, especially when one gets to see them fly. The bird stayed perched this time, but they have one of the coolest wing displays in North America.
One day also saw about 15 Red-necked Phalaropes out on one of the basins. This bird was rather close compared to the other ones.
The Glendale Recharge Ponds had a lot more shorebirds during this time frame than what I was able to photograph, way more! Shorebird tend to stick far from the paths a majority of the time while foraging in the middle of the huge basins. When water habitat is good along the path, they may be anywhere close also. Thanks to the birds in this post, who gave it more flavor than I expected I would have tasted. I'll probably head out to Glendale a lot over the month of September. Another post similar to this may come next month also.