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Benton Lake Whimbrels

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  • Beth Hill
    Saturday morning we had a group of 3 beginning birders out to Benton Lake for a class field trip. We saw LOTS of curlews at the entrance road. At least 30
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2013
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      Saturday morning we had a group of 3 beginning birders out to Benton Lake for a class field trip.  We saw LOTS of "curlews" at the entrance road.  At least 30 flying around and in the fields on either side feeding in loose groups, not pairs.  Liz mentioned that sometimes there is a  Whimbrel hidden in those groups but we'd have to stop, scope and burden new birders with some fine details.  We didn't stop.  I am sure they were the Whimbrels.  It sure bugged me - I KNOW we saw them in retrospect - I couldn't recall cinnamon wing linings in all of them, some seemed smaller.  And I lost sleep kicking myself for not being free to get out Sunday or Monday.  So ---
      This morning I recruited Jeri B. to come along and hunt them down.  I was concerned the storms and winds of the night before might have pushed them north.  We left early and spotted Long-billed Curlews right off.  Ridiculous bills, buffy to cinnamon underneath and either in pairs or singles.  Willets were abundant, flying and calling.  Marbled Godwits were strutting around either singly or loose pairs.  Then at the corner to turn onto the entrance road, just where the largest groups were observed on Saturday there were 5 or 6 birds feeding in the grass on the south side of the road.  There was a hint of the crown stripe, the bills weren't so ridiculously long, they seemed smaller and no hint of buffy - and the godwit nearby was the same size.  They didn't call or raise their wings.  They almost didn't face us to see the heads.  But, the group behavior, size, bill, etc. makes me think we did indeed see the Whimbrels and that we did have them on Saturday, just not identified.  And - they may not be there much longer.
      Another new Cascade County bird - it's getting harder and harder to add more. 
      Beth Hill
      Great Falls
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