Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Rocky Point, 2nd post.
On Thursday morning, April 26th, I had decided I wanted to find Cholla Bay and get there before low tide which was recommended by some other experienced birders, but low tide was not until about 11:00 am, so I went back out to Sandy Beach which is where the condo was situated and quickly found some more fun birds. Probably the biggest surprise was a Wilson's Warbler found around the condo's grass and bushes near the pool. I have seen these hyper-active little birds many times, but they are usually in dense vegetation of trees and since Rocky Point does not have much for trees, except palm trees, this one was spending time in the very small bushes and landed on the lawn just long enough to capture a couple of photos. Cute little birds and always nice to find.
From there I continued down to the beach and found quite a few birds on the beach already. The photo is a Willet which was a new bird for me and once I found them, they were all over the place and when they fly, their wing pattern is unmistakable.
I also encountered a small group of 8 Sanderlings and mixed in was a bird that was colored very differently. It took me awhile to figure out that it was a Dunlin. Now I have seen Dunlin before in Arizona, but always in their non-breeding plumage. I had never seen one in breeding plumage, so it looked much different than what I was used to. Really glad I was able to capture a photo of this one as they are quite colorful. The slightly downturned bill and the black belly are key indicators.
From here I finally ventured out to find Cholla Bay and did not have much difficulty in that department. I got there just before low tide and heading down the rocks to the beach area and immediately came upon a Whimbrel, which was another new life bird for me. This bird did was mostly in the escape mode as it did not stop to allow me to get a head on photo. The shape of the bill is unique, with its down curved bill it slightly resembles a Long-billed Curlew. But the Whimbrel's bill is much shorter and there are other differences that help to identify it along with a bit different habitat.
The diversity of birds found on Cholla Bay was very impressive. It seemed that I would find something new and watch and catch some photos of that and then turn around and find another new bird had flown in nearby. Found a lone 'peep' by itself that did not stand out and just shot a few photos to look at later and when I processed the photos I discovered it was a Black-bellied Plover still in winter plumage. Did not spend too much time looking at the plover in the water as I was more distracted by a pair of Ruddy Turnstones that flew in. This was a very nice find and had been one on my wish list. Breeding plumage is very distinctive.
Next new birds that made an appearance were Marbled Godwit with their upturned bills and a flock of Red Knots that seemed content to just rest in the water.
And finally a pair of Semipalmated Plovers stopped by rounding out an incredible morning on Cholla Bay at low tide. The number of terns was also very high, but have decided to do another post later on to cover some of the many terns I found.