Now is the time of surprises at Hart's Basin. Most of the sandhill cranes have gone on in their northward migration.
The stage changes constantly and I never know quite what to expect. Yesterday we had avocets and black-necked stilts with their long red legs, plus the all-black ibis, and ducks of every kind.
Some of yesterday's birds are still here, but there are new ones too. As always, I first scan the tawny salt grass just beyond the shoreline ... always a likely area to find a resting bird. Jim Wallace told me that there was a long-billed curlew here earlier today ... how I'd love to see it! Scan for 15 minutes or so. No curlew. Not the first time I've not found the bird!
I admire the other birds ... and here comes a whole flock. They wheel and turn in flight — long legs and long, straight bill — at least 50 ... marbled godwits.
I decide to scan the salt grass again. Movement a good 20 feet from the water's edge. Mottled brown. Back down into the grass and I can't see it at all. Wait ... there's a head ... and a neck. Now the bird stands up. That's a bill? It's huge! Impossible! It looks as long as the bird! Down-curved, rather thick. It's a long-billed curlew! I gaze at it ... I saw it here once, back in the early 1990s.
And here are some more birders. My scope is set up on my window mount and I eagerly share my rare bird! I check my copy of "Sibley's Guide to Birds." My curlew is nearly two-feet-long, weight is over a pound and wingspan at nearly three feet.
I know that it's a ground nester in short grass areas and that the male incubates part of the time. I'll check out the details of its life style online when I get home. Right now, I just relish my rare bird.blog comments powered by Disqus