Aug 31, 2011

Raining Buff-breasts!

My wife will tell you that I've been pretty miserable the last couple of days. And it's true, I have been! I've had the worst case of summer ass since I moved to the summer ass state some 7 odd years ago. Well last night I got home about 830pm, soaked in sweat, stinking like a Skunk Ape and had a severe case of summer ass slapped all over my Chevy Chase. A freezing cold shower, a Klondike bar and a nice cold drink helped. My long suffering wife helped too, and Superbad was on the telly, which brought a smile back to my face. "Chicka, chicka, yeah!"

As I crawled into bed I said to Julie, "I really don't feel like doing my shorebird count tomorrow." 

The alarm clock woke me at 6am! It was about as welcome as a kick in the bollocks! Somehow I managed to crawl out of bed and head down to the refuge, via Krispy Kreme Donuts! It's amazing what effect sugar and caffeine has on the human body. I went from feeling like a microwaved turd, to a well trained triathlete, in the matter of a few minutes. Well, ok, I am exaggerrating, but I felt better than a microwaved turd!

Counting shorebirds at the refuge is becoming one of my favorite all-time things to do. Summer ass symptoms were gone after about 10 minutes when I clapped eyes on a crippling Buff-breasted Sandpiper. I did a little dance and headed further along the dike. 5 hours later I finished with Mounds Pool 3. There were just so many cool birds to look at, that I couldn't drag myself away. The 45 minute thunderstorm was exhilarating as well.

A flock of 18 Buff-breasted Sandpiper dropped in as the storm was approaching, which was rather splendid but that number would soon pale into comparison, when, at the NE end of the impoundment, I happened upon a flock of 53! Yeah 53! I promised not to curse too much on my blog when I re-upped it in January. 53 Fucking Buff-breasts! Google that....go on I dare you!

Buff-breasted Sandpipers!
I got some video of them (more on that later) and decided to loop all the way round MP3 and see if the other Buff-breasts were still at the southern end. They were! 75 Fucking Buff-breasts! Are you serious? 
Buff-breasted Sandpipers are considered to be in deep shit, population wise! According to most sources there are only 15,000 left! The most I have ever seen in one place before, was 7 at St Marks in 2005, when Mongo (Lesser Sand Plover) was present.

Chicka, chicka, yeah!

Well, I thought the day couldn't get any better, but it did! Back alongside the channel of death I could see the rain approaching from the east. I was watching a small group of Marbled Godwits, when a smaller but similar bird landed amongst them. An adult Hudsonian Godwit. No fucking way!

Hudsonian Godwit - adult
It was turning out to be a brilliant morning. This was only my third Hudwit, ever! The first was on Dauphin Island, Alabama 2004 (thanks for jogging the failing memory Mark!), and the second at Tram Road Sewage Farm in 2007, I think! Chicka, chicka, yeah!

The thunderstorm encouraged a few Black Terns to frequent MP3 and an American Avocet arrived along with a flock of 7 Pectoral Sandpipers.

Black Tern
Marbled Godwit and Blue-winged Teal
The cherry on the big chocolate cake appeared in the form of my favorite bird. Always a great day when I see one of these guys!
Peregrine Falcon - the shorebirds weren't as happy, as I was, to see this magnificent bird
Stay tuned for today's highlights on video. Just gotta figure out how to make a movie!

Oh, my shorebird numbers? 1565 shorebirds of 25 species. Hell yeah! The Hudwit was the 30th shorebird species I've had this fall at St Marks NWR. Not too shabby eh?

If I must! Here's the list for y'all to drool over!

34 Black-bellied Plover
9 Wilson's Plover
101 Semipalmated Plover
2 Killdeer
26 Black-necked Stilt
1 Am. Avocet
62 G. Yellowlegs
17 L. Yellowlegs
122 Willet
27 Spotted Sandpiper
75 Buff-breasted Sandpiper
1 Hudsonian Godwit
15 Marbled Godwit
72 Ruddy Turnstone
5 Red Knot
1 Sanderling
41 Semipalmated Sandpiper
178 Western Sandpiper
35 Least Sandpiper
9 Pectoral Sandpiper
2 Dunlin
8 Stilt Sandpiper
194 Short-billed Dowitcher
1 Long-billed Dowitcher
1 Wilson's Phalarope
481 unidentified peeps
45 dowitcher spp.


  1. we saw hudwit together in Alabama - sum plumage, remember ? Mark

  2. First off... friggin' hilarious report! Second... friggin' amazing report! Loved it! I have a number of folks up this way inquiring about Florida Birding... In addition to recommending SMNWR (the most under rated Florida refuge IMHO), I'll also direct them to your guiding services!


    ...given my tenure "down yonder," I know the feeling of summer ass all to well ...cheer up man ...the birding gods are with you!!!