RUFF (1) Continues Bunche Beach-6:15pm Sat
- Hi everybody,
Just read Charlie's email and felt bad that he didn't get to see the bird tonight. Wish I had stayed with him and showed him where we had seen it. I'm afraid I was overly excited and not thinking too clearly when we ran into him. Didn't seem like he had much light left to get the bird. Maybe tomorrow night! Here's what happened tonight:
Ran into a couple of birders as they left the beach without seeing a Ruff about 5:30 pm. One of them suggested that if I had a camera I should take it. I did. More about this later.
As I walked out to the same area as last night, I could see a pair of birders with a scope. They introduced themselves as Bill and Patty Jones. Great to meet them! Had been enjoying Bill's posts for a while.
Bill spotted quite a few birds as we waited for a Ruff to appear. The best was an enormous looking Eagle on the flats.
It was chilly and windy and getting dark without spotting a Ruff so I decided to leave. After sharing goodbyes and as I walked away, I could hear Bill calling to me and from his frantic motions, I knew it could only a Ruff! I walked briskly back and on the other side of the channel was one Ruff standing next to a rock. Bill indicated it had flown in while vocalizing. Patty said it was looking around as if searching for its partner which wasn't there.
A Spotted Sandpiper walked by giving great relative size views. The Ruff looked much bigger. Because of the lighting conditions, the legs looked gray-last night in better light, I could see them as greenish. The white lores were evident as was the extensive orange base of the black tipped bill. The structure was very much a Ruff and Patty remarked on its hump.
Bill was concerned that I get a picture of the bird, but as I tried to photograph it, I got a dead battery graphic. Bill encouraged me to warm the batteries and although I was successful, the camera still wouldn't function. 4 fully charged batteries waited for me in the car, of course.
Believe me, I wasn't overly concerned with a picture. I was thrilled that one of these special birds had shown up and two other birders had seen it. As we finally left, Charlie was just coming up. Going out again tomorrow after a Caloosa Bird Club Board Meeting, Charlie, maybe you can join us?
I've used a number of birding guides and textbooks to help in the id of this species including:
The Facts on File Field Guide to North American Shorebirds by Richard J. Chandler which contained 7 pictures of standing Ruff and 1 Ruff flying that really helped me hone in on the bird's structure no matter the variability of plumage and/or bare parts
and Shorebirds, An Identification Guide by Peter Hayman, John Marchant, and Tony Prater which had some excellent plates of variously plumaged/aged individuals and excellent commentary on the "jizz" of the bird.
And then all the other usual field guides including: Sibley's "big book", Peterson, Stokes, and the Natl. Geo.
Last night's close in views really helped me in the ID including seeing the individual bird that had messed up scapulars and observable floppy tertials.
Hope at least the one hangs around for others to see.
Thanks to Bill and Patty for keeping the faith and hanging in and letting me know that one had come back.
And its a FOTY for me, first in twenty years for Bill, and a lifer for Patty
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