Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More Colors

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.

24 comments:

  1. Beautiful colour on those birds.Great photos.

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  2. Thanks Neil, but as you know it was even better standing and looking at them.

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  3. A lovely set of colourful photos - there is nothing to beat plumage in the breeding season.

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  4. Thanks John, we see these colors for such a short time.

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  5. Looks like it was a lovely day for it.
    Curlews are the ones making those mournful sounds, are they? I thought they were a bit bigger than the ones in the pictures.

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  6. Great set of pictures - I think that I see even less birds in their breeding colous than you do.
    Shame really.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia

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  7. Hi duck-or-grouse - I think you are meaning a different bird - these ones are from the Sandpiper family.

    Hi Stewart, there's only a very short time to see the birds in their breeding colors - and then they are all gone!

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  8. A great set of photos. Very nice colors. Well done!

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  9. Great photos of the two species of birds! I was well worth the wait, Mick.

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  10. Beautiful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  11. Well the Godwit was awesome alone..then with the Curlew Sandpiper what a bonus--
    Awesome photos

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  12. Lovely pictures of the Godwits, Knots and Sandpipers, you have got it.

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  13. Hi Mick. I can sympathize with the challenge of seeking out the smaller waders amongst a large flock of Godwits. Over here it's Black-tailed in drab winter plumage at the moment but still fun hunting the small fry. FAB.

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  14. Excellent series of shots.
    The breeding colours are beautiful.

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  15. scenes like that are only a dream to me. I don´t even know a place where I could come that close.

    Thanks for sharing Mick.

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  16. Beautiful colors. I'm glad your patience was rewarded with some great photos.

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  17. They really are hard to see at first... almost little miniatures of the larger bird. I love that name... Godwits.

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  18. Sensational captures! Lucky you were there to capture the action with such amazing detail. Wonderful post!

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  19. I love finding hidden treasures in my photos!

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  20. Hi Mick
    I can imagine your thrill at seeing that Curlew Sandpiper in its nuptial plumage.
    The Godwits look beautiful and presumably are ready to depart.
    Kiss them goodbye for me!
    Cheers
    Denis

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  21. Thanks to all for commenting.
    Denis, I don't think I'll be getting quite that close!

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  22. Super photos of the Bar-tailed Godwits Mick! That second shot, with the bird walking toward you is superb! And what a treat to find the Curlew Sandpipers, and get photos of them too! What a day.

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  23. Great birds. (I came back to see what I missed last week, when we were away from the computer). Saw your comment above about it being better just to stand and look as opposed to taking pictures. Made me feel better, because many great birding experiences we have I can't tera myself away from watching long enough to pick up focus the camera.

    (That being said, I'm awfully glad so many people do take pictures as I love looking at them.)

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  24. Beautiful brownish orange!

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