[Tweeters] Pectoral Sandpiper at Montlake Fill

Joshua Glant josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Fri May 15 23:28:00 PDT 2015

Hello Tweets,

My Mom surprised me right after school today with a trip into Seattle! I
was dropped off at the Fill with my Dad, while my brother went to browse
car dealerships (he has his hobby, I have mine). I briefly considered
heading to Yesler (Sidles?) Swamp in search of the recently reported
Cassin’s Vireo, but instead I decided to head towards Main Pond and maybe
check out the swamp later. Inspired by the local front-page (!) article, I
was looking forward to checking the pond for shorebirds.

A Western Wood-pewee perched silently on a snag east across the trail of
the Boy Scout pond, and I was pointed to a female Wood Duck by a birding
couple, Polly and David. A warbler chipped in the lone cottonwood south of
Boy Scout Woods (the same spot where I saw the wintering Wilson’s Warbler
back in February), and Red-winged Blackbirds sang and called everywhere (no
Yellow-headed, as far as I could see or hear!).

Peeking across Main Pond from the east beach, I was relieved to see one
shorebird skittering around on the other beach, across the water. The
bird’s tall profile as it ran made me think it was a yellowlegs at first,
but it seemed too small.

I sidled (no pun intended – or is it?) through the bushes and raspberry
brambles on the overgrown trail along the west side of Main Pond. Finally,
I reached the beach. And there the sandpiper was, bathing in the water! At
first, I thought he was a Least. Then I leaned toward Western. Then back to
Least. But something wasn’t right; this bird was too big. When the
sandpiper stood up tall, showing a streaky breast, it suddenly hit me –
Pectoral! That’s why I had thought of this bird as an oversized Least. I
got really excited, and pulled out my camera.

For the next 15 minutes, I followed the sandpiper around as it foraged on
the grass, waded into the water a bit, and pecked around on the mud. A
robin flushed it, but it came back for a few minutes more. When he was
flushed the second time, I noticed Polly and David across the field, as
well as my Dad. I ran to them, shouting, "There's a rare bird here! A
Pectoral Sandpiper!" We all made our way to the east beach on the Main
Pond, and got great views for long periods of time as he walked back and
forth along the muddy bank.

After a long time, after Polly and David had moved on, and Dad had found a
bench at which to read his book, I tore myself from watching the Pectoral.
What fun birding is! I was bouncing up and down all the way home.

And the excitement continued: at 7:30 PM, in the span of half an hour, both
a Western Wood-pewee and the Olive-sided Flycatcher perched on the same
exposed branch! It’s a madrone branch that is for some reason bare, hanging
over the ravine. A perfect flycatcher vantage point! As one pewee perched,
a second pewee called a hoarse, upward “Beeeiiiihh”.

A minute later, two Western Wood-pewees perched near each other in my yard,
while the Olive-sided Flycatcher called “Pip-pip-pip!” from some distant
perch in the forest! After the first pewee flew off, I sat on a lawn chair
outside watching the calling pewee as he sat on the top of a snag.
“Beeeiiiihh! Beeeiiiihh!” He called, flying in acrobatic loops through the
air to catch gnats, which were out in force tonight. Every time I thought
he was saying goodbye, I saw his silhouette return the the perch! At 9:03
PM, I bade him goodnight myself, and went inside. From the window, I could
still see him perched there for a few minutes afterward, probably still
calling “Beeeiiiihh!” into the fading evening light.

My Pectoral Sandpiper photos can be seen here:

Great birding, Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com
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