Tim Boyer Photography

Small Groups, Cool Birds, Fun Locations

Lesser Sand Plover

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer

These images were taken yesterday on August 16th at Ocean Shores, WA. On the outer coast near the Quinault Casino.  This was a field trip sponsored by the Seattle Audubon, and there were nine of us on the trip.  Later the bird was seen by two other birders see -- eBird for those details. We accessed the beach from the entrance point by the Best Western Hotel and drove north.  We saw the usual Western Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and Sanderlings but it was low tide the birds were scattered and not bunched up so we had low numbers and small groupings of birds.  After driving as far as we legally could we turned around and were headed south back to the Best Western beach access point thinking about the North Jetty as the next stop.  I don't know why I stopped the car to look at this small group of shorebirds, but the day before on the shorebird field trip for the Fall Shorebird Class I taught for Eastside Audubon we found a Ruddy Turnstone on the beach with a few Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.  What happened next though must have looked like pandemonium on the beach as I jumped out of my car and ran back to Blair's car to ask him to get the scope out, he was already out of his car grabing his camera.  We both had left our car doors open and cars running as we very quickly realized what we were seeing.  I bet the field trip participants wondered what the heck they'd gotten themselves into as both drivers had jumped out of their cars.  Blair and I both called out Lesser Sand Plover, although I think the first thing I said was the old name Mongolian Plover.  After awhile we settled down and got the other field trip participants on the bird, but still in shock/surprise that we'd located a bird that hadn't been seen in Washington since 2013, we made sure everyone got good looks, four of five of us had cameras and got pictures, and I'm not sure I stopped smiling and saying WOW, for a couple of hours.  Yep, 24 hours later, WOW!

Lesser Sadn Plover found on the outer coast of Ocean Shores near teh Quinault Casino on Aug. 16th, 2015.
Lesser Sadn Plover found on the outer coast of Ocean Shores near teh Quinault Casino on Aug. 16th, 2015.
Lesser Sand Plover-8128
Lesser Sand Plover-8128
Lesser Sand Plover-8188
Lesser Sand Plover-8188
Lesser Sand Plover feeding on a marine worm.
Lesser Sand Plover feeding on a marine worm.
Lesser Sand Plover with Semipalmated Plovers and Western Sandpiper
Lesser Sand Plover with Semipalmated Plovers and Western Sandpiper
Size comparison Lesser Sand Plover with Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.
Size comparison Lesser Sand Plover with Western Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers.

Later in the day on the Oyhut Game Range we located what we first thought to be 17 Pacific Golden Plovers, but when they were flushed by a peregrine there were 22 or 23. I had counted 8 the day before with the Eastside Audubon Class. But, 20+ Pacific Golden Plovers was a high number for all of us.

There was also a pair of peregrine on the Game Range, and we watch one Peregrine Falcon snack on a shorebird.  It had landed pretty close to use and we had great views with our bins.  We couldn't make out the band number but it had a right leg red band and a left leg green band.  It was pretty windy by then and even with scope views there was too much vibration to read the band number.

We watched the peregrine that had been snacking take off and fly about two feet off the ground and spit a group of flushed shorebirds.  Then the other peregrine from higher up dove on one of the groups.  It caught one of the small shorebirds and flew directly over head.  On any normal fieldtrip that would have been the highlight, watching a peregrine hunt then do a fly over at 20 feet. But on a day with a Lesser Sand Plover and  20+ Pacific Golden Plovers, it was exciting, but definitely not the highlight!

These images were taken around 11:45  AM in mid-day light with the Canon 7D Mark II and a 100-400 mm lens with a 1.4 Extender so the  effective focal lenght was 896 mm.  I had to do a lot of cropping on each image, we were not that close to the bird, and none of us wanted to flush it.

Enjoy      Get outside and Thanks!         Tim