[Tweeters] Shorebird flock ID

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 21 19:47:23 PST 2015

Just 2 more cents on this front - Might as well try to make use of the Seattle Christmas Bird Count data in speculating about this id….

This might be a place where you’d want to take eBird ‘all time high counts’ with a pretty big grain of sand — eBird should be pretty excellent at capturing recent trends, but it is still very new.

Though Black Turnstone’s King Co high count on eBird is 60, CBC Data for Seattle gives a different perspective - most of the Black Turnstones reported on the Seattle CBC are from either the West Seattle roost or from a boat over off Restoration Point [so the numbers might be a combination of more than one flock] - that said, despite only having one day to tally the birds each year, the CBC high count is 375 for Black Turnstones back in 2007. Numbers were highest on the CBCs from ~2002-2009, then have tapered off and more recently stayed well below 100.

Meanwhile - what about Surfbird? eBird King Co high count of 200 last winter, and a CBC trend that has been upward, with 160+ for the last couple years. Given that the Duwamish Head flock is often a mixture of Black Turnstone & Surfbirds, I wonder whether that could easily be a 200 bird flock seen from a distance.

As for Dunlin - the King Co ebird high is 300, but they are much more likely to be a flock found in the Kent Valley, not up along the shore in numbers like that.
They’ve got a Seattle CBC high count of 257, but have been tallied at fewer than 40 for the past 8 years.

Sanderling - eBird King Co high count of 150, has mostly been seen on Seattle CBCs in numbers below that, but their high count is 253, and after several lower years, last year there were 138 tallied.

All told,I’d say there’s not much to go on with the original sighting beyond speculating on possibilities —Personally, I’d put more weight on description of the birds being reported on the breakwater — that makes me thing Turnstones & Surfbirds are a bit more likely to be the birds in question — but just a guess.

Looking forward to seeing what the numbers look like on this year’s CBC — maybe we’ll have a flock sitting in the same place ready to be id’d and counted!

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

> On Dec 21, 2015, at 12:51 PM, Josh Adams <xjoshx at gmail.com> wrote:


> Hi all,

> 200 Black Turnstones seems like a pretty high number of that species

> in one flock (eBird's King Co. high count is currently 60).

> Additionally, there well marked backs would be extremely obvious in

> flight even at a significant distance and would have been mentioned, I

> assume? The formation flying and dark back would point to Dunlin,

> IMHO, but Sanderling is also possible (or mixed flock of both).

> Sanderling have light gray backs, but depending on the light they

> could look "dark'.


> There have been good sized flocks of Dunlin on the Edmonds marina

> breakwater in the last week (I think Joe Sweeney counted 900 in a

> photo, if I recall correctly) with similar look and behavior.


> Josh Adams

> Lynnwood, WA

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