Today I went to the 7s with Elin, but we each brought a gun so that we could split up to be more effective in our work for the day, which we did pretty early on. It ended up being my personal best nest finding day, with eleven nests! The species makeup of the eleven was one each of Red Phalarope and Red-throated Loon, two Red-necked Phalaropes, and seven Semipalmated Sandpipers.
One of the Semipalmated Sandpiper nests
The loon nest was so awesome, on a small island just offshore in one of the large lakes on the study area, and the egg was gorgeous – dark green like jade with black splotches across it. I was also impressed by the size of the lone egg in the nest, about 1/3 again as large as a chicken egg – not surprising seeing that loons are large birds.
That egg is 1/3 again as big as a chicken egg - this is a big nest!
Other cool sights today included three Parasitic Jaegers mobbing a Snowy Owl that was sitting on the ice on Gull Lake, which is still more than 90% iced over. They would arc high up into the air and then come down with a good head of speed, pulling up right before hitting the owl, which would duck at each pass, before it eventually flew off.
I also had a Western Sandpiper, the only one seen on the study area by anyone through the whole season. I was walking along and I heard a call that I didn’t recognize, which after being up there for over 3 weeks was pretty unusual, so I looked up at the sky and saw this bird flying over, and then I saw it land ~300 meters away. I was really hoping it was some rare Asian vagrant, but when I tracked it down I found that it was in fact “just” my first Western Sandpiper on the breeding grounds!
Western Sandpiper, a really gorgeous bird with that arrowhead streaking below
Female Spectacled Eider, showing the female version of the striking head pattern on the males