[Tweeters] Bar-tailed godwit at Ocean Shores

D Richardson d.lrichardson at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 9 20:49:03 PDT 2015

Doug Martin, Ron Martin and I spent the day birding Ocean Shores. At about 11:20 AM, the low tide mark, we located about 40 godwits on the north side of the Damon Point Spit, about 200 yards east of the marina entrance.  They were feeding on the water line but there was a smaller bird among them standing on one leg with its head turned back beneath its wings. It had a white underbelly which initially signaled Greater Yellowlegs, but it was too stout and when we put the scopes on the bird we saw that it had dark gray to blackish legs just like the marbled godwits beside it, but it was not buffy like them.  Then we switched to wondering if it was a willet which is not a very common bird for this area but the back pattern was entirely too  pronounced with black and white striping.  We decided to move as close as we could to the bird assuming that if it was a willet the wing pattern in flight would give it away or maybe it would take its head out from its wing and give us a shot at the bill.  We got to within about 120 feet or so with our 20/80 scopes and all the birds disregarded us. We couldn't see the bill but we could see a pronounced white stripe through the eye. The head and neck were gray. The tail was black and white striped.
We moved around  several angles to get different viewings and it was always easy to relocate the bird because of its smaller size and white underbelly.  It was too big for a willet and too small for a marbled godwit and we nearly gave up until the bird pulled its head up and started to feed.  Godwit!  with bright upturned two tone bill, orange at the base but dark at the tip.  Still the smaller size and color made it stand out no matter where it mixed in the flock and it even occasionally had little bill to bill sword fights with the birds around it.  Doug Martin got one good photo of the bird digiscoping with his i-phone when it was sleeping with the head under wing.  We didn't have books but presumed it was one of the other godwits in non-breeding plumage so we went back to the car for our bigger cameras.  It was clear from all our guide books that it was a non-breeding bar-tailed godwit.  When we got back to where it had been all the birds were gone.  We tried to locate  on the other side of the spit but to no avail.
Dave Richardson253 209 6010

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