- Hi, Birdfolk. The north section of Estero Aquatic Preserve was very
productive this evening. I paddled my inflatable kayak east from the osprey platform at
the north end of Lover's Key to look for the avocets and to investigate a
small island roost I'd seen earlier. I was amazed to find not waders, but about
200 shorebirds around the roost. Whimbrels, red knots and turnstones were
roosting on the top of two to three-foot- high mangroves, and nearby in shallow
water (it was high tide) were willets, dunlin, s-b dowitchers and at least seven
marbled godwits sleeping and undisturbed as I drifted to within fifty feet of
them. This was about three quarters of a mile (? 25minute paddle) out in the
bay in a very low boat traffic area. I also passed a flock of 110 red-breasted
mergansers on the way out to the roost.
The best and most amazing obsevation came as I paddled back just before
sunset. I had been watching seven birds in the water and finally got close enough
to drift toward them and use my 12 power binocs. I didn't believe it until I
was within 150 feet. They were all western grebes. I tried to tell myself that
they were the Ft. Myers Beach scoters stretching out their necks, but there was
no doubt -- beautiful, graceful, long-necked western grebes (remote
possibility for Clark's). They moved rather quickly northeast and out of view thus
ending any hope of getting someone to witness this sighting. I'm going to have
another look in the morning -- and take my digital camera.
This certainly makes up for all the birdless hours I've spent paddling Estero
PS Vince Lucas tells me that Vince McGrath has seen these shorebird night
roosts in the past.
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