[Tweeters] Where have all the shorebirds gone?

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Fri Jan 17 19:43:08 PST 2014

I sent this message out to a small group of birders earlier today, but here's the gist for Tweeters:

While birding over the last week, it's struck me how few shorebirds there are around Dungeness Bay and Sequim Bay right now, particularly the usual "big three" wintering species -- Dunlin, Sanderlings, and BB Plovers. There are tiny numbers of Dunlin here this winter and essentially no BB Plovers and Sanderlings, whereas in a typical winter Dungeness Bay may have a thousand or more Dunlin and a few hundred plovers and Sanderlings. I counted only 35 Dunlin in Dungeness Bay this morning, and no plovers or Sanderlings. There were no shorebirds at all in Sequim Bay yesterday. A month ago on our CBC on Dec 16, 2013, numbers of BB Plovers and Sanderlings were well below our long-term averages, although Dunlin were about average.

The daytime tides are fine for feeding shorebirds right now, yet we're seeing essentially none on the Dungeness Bay mudflats. At high tide, the usual shorebird roosting spots in Dungeness Bay only have gulls, ducks, and cormorants this week. We're really missing the sounds of shorebirds over here.

We'll be looking more closely over the next few days to see if we've somehow missed birds, or if they've moved to different habitats. But it makes us wonder whether this is a region-wide phenomenon.

Are you Tweets seeing typical numbers and flocks of wintering Dunlin, BB Plovers, and Sanderlings in your areas, like in Puget Sound, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay?

Bob Boekelheide

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