Friday, March 5, 2010

Phalaroping Around Town

June 3, 2009: This date marked the first arrival of many shorebird species, including our first Hudsonian Godwits. However, even with the arrival of these birds, almost all of the available nesting habitat remained under snow, and it was clear that it would remain that way for a while yet. It didn’t matter too much to me (yet) however, because I was ecstatic to see my first godwits in breeding plumage (what beautiful birds!). After the first push of shorebirds into the area, things slowed down again for a couple of days.

However, some of the strange weather patterns that delayed the return of summer also brought some very special birds into Churchill. For about a week, we were distracted by many Red Phalaropes that were hanging around some of the small patches of water that were open around Churchill. Red Phalaropes are uncommon around the area, and are not seen every year. So, when we saw 20+ over the course of the week, we were thrilled. Not only did we see them, but these phalaropes had no fear of us, and were foraging within feet of us. Here are some of the many pictures I took of the birds:

Red Phalaropes (all female), from various places around Churchill. I particularly like the above image, which shows a bird dunking underwater, in pursuit of some tasty morsel

Tom and Jay photograph the Red Phalaropes that swam and foraged feet in front of us.

I was looking almost straight down on this bird, only 6-7 feet away. I particularly like it because you can see their awesome lobed feet

Female Red-necked Phalarope. In the top image, you can make out a food particle in its beak, which it has just captured using capillary action (you can see the water still being drawn into its bill)

All of our phalarope photographing bored Brad, so he took to wandering down the road. On his walk, he found two additional Red Phalaropes.

video
Red Phalarope feeding, spinning in the water to churn up small aquatic invertebrates. You can see the spirals in the water that the phalarope creates by spinning!

4 comments:

  1. Wow; the foot shot is amazing! The only image cooler is this one - http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Photography/Images/Content/phalarope-bird-100600-sw.jpg

    Great post, thanks for sharing the phalarope love!

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  2. Lovely bird and photos. I would love to see this one someday !

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  3. "I was looking almost straight down on this bird, only 6-7 feet away. I particularly like it because you can see their awesome lobed feet"

    ... and how fat they are

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  4. Great to see this species that we do not have here in the UK.

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