It was pretty amazing to see all of the birds mingling with the sunbathers. Royal, Sandwich and Forster's terns; Willets, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlins, Short-billed Dowitchers and a Red Knot; Pelicans and Cormorants - all basically going about their own business and unimpressed by the hundred or so people stepping around them to collect shells or depart the beach. I mean it, stepping around and over the birds. Here are some shots but please keep reading because I need your help with the next section.
See what I mean about the birds and people being so close? Here is a Red Knot and a guy with a beach chair about 6 feet away.
Royal Tern - one of about 100 preening on this part of the beach.
Sandwich Tern - lots of these southern birds on the beach too. Check out the yellow tip on the bill. This particular bird hacked something up right in front of me - gross.
After Sanibel, we stopped by Bunche Beach for a quick shorebird scan. Connie got her dream by letting me out of the car and burning rubber to the outlet stores out on the main drag. I passed 2 women with binoculars who asked me if I "was here to see the curlew". I casually said "Of coouurse" as if I knew there was a Long-billed Curlew on the beach. The women pointed me toward another couple with a spotting scope who graciously let me look at the bird. They said that it must be 5:15 because they were told that the bird lands on the beach every day at 5:15. It was certainly 5:15.
The couple left and I noticed a guy with a metal detector walking really close to the bird and the bird wasn't leaving, so I moved in for a closer look and photographs. Wow, a curlew on the east coast. I have only seen them in California. I took a dozen photos that came out pretty good considering the terrible lighting. The trouble is that I don't think this is a Long-billed Curlew. The name implies that it has a really long bill. While this bird has a long bill, it isn't REALLY long. It's more of a Whimbrel kind of long. I think this is a Whimbrel. Still a good bird, but not as rare as a curlew.
Whimbrel or Long-billed Curlew?
So, you see the conundrum? What do you think? Write a comment and give us your opinion.