This post is for World Bird Wednesday.
There were several thousand Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri) roosting at Inskip Point on the very early morning high tide last week. Many of them were showing beautiful red breeding colors. It is the males that get this lovely bright red all down their fronts. The females have just a faint wash of color and are more heavily barred. The red color will become even darker but I seldom see the really bright colors here.
The back of the bird also gets more intense color.
When I looked at my photos from the first morning I was out there I saw one dark red splash of color in one photo which I almost dismissed as another Godwit. However, when I looked the second time I realized this was a much smaller bird and by comparing it with others roosting near-by I realized I had photographed a Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) with red breeding colors. I had never seen one of these birds with such dark color. In the spring when they first arrive here they have red splashes of color down the front - but this was a bird with all-over red! I had to go back the next day and try to see it again. Curlew Sandpipers have a bad habit - from the point of view of the birdwatcher! - of roosting right in among the Godwits and often all you see are a smaller set of legs in behind! I took friends out with me the next morning and we stood and watched and photographed the birds for a long time before we saw any Curlew Sandpipers at all. However, it was worth the wait. The whole flock started moving as the tide went out and we saw a number of birds with quite a lot of red down the front.
Curlew Sandpipers in front and Godwits behind.
Curlew Sandpiper in front then Great Knots and Godwits behind.Bar-tailed Godwits breed in Alaska.
Curlew Sandpipers breed in the high arctic tundra from Siberia west.