Sunday, July 21, 2019

Avocet delight

My friend Ken was out birding at 6am overlooking a pond near the intersection of Gee Rd and Ridge Rd in Tioga County and he found what I believe to be the rarest bird in Tioga County so far this year, and it is the first time this particular species has been reported to eBird (the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's online database) in our county.

The American avocet is a bird that breeds in the American West, found in ponds with vegetation and mud at places like Yellowstone National Park (which is where I saw my first ever avocets). Then the American avocet spends its winter in the southern parts of the United States and Mexico. The two that Ken located this morning probably left the breeding grounds a few weeks ago and are making their way to the east coast and then will be headed south from there.

This was a great blessing for a couple of us other birders in the area. I understand that this is what we call a "Lifer" for my friend John, meaning that this is the first time he has encountered this species in his life. That's really saying something since John has been birding since he was a teenager and has seen hundreds of species!

As for me, getting to experience these birds today took me on a vacation in my mind. Here is my personal reflection:

Against a backdrop of a rolling hillside scattered with shrubs, there are two American avocets resting at the muddy edge of a medium size pond surrounded with lush vegetation. Looking at the scene and the birds in it I'm transported in my heart to my first encounter with this amazing species at the Blacktail Ponds in Yellowstone Natl Park in July of 2017. In my mind I can smell the sweet fragrance of sagebrush. Ken, thanks for this experience today. I was in need of a good vacation and these birds were the ticket. Refreshed!

In case you are wondering; yes, this means that the Fall migration has begun! Get outside and look to the skies and to the lake shores. You never know what might turn up as many species of shorebirds and wading birds make their thousand+ mile treks from the breeding grounds to the wintering grounds...a truly incredible expression of Divine creativity is bird migration!
  
  (a picture from Ken's eBird checklist)

(American avocets at Ridge Rd today-resting on a muddy bank in the heat of the day)

(the pond with a backdrop of cow pasture)

(My friend John upon seeing his "Lifer" American avocets)


(A photo of the American avocets that Erin and I saw in Yellowstone National Park in July of 2017)
(a photo of the range map of this species- red means breeding area and blue means winter range)

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