. . . and the Least will be first! (I think!)

That’s “Least Sandpiper.” Or more descriptively, a “Peep.”

Mind you, I don’t know what he’s doing here. None of my books says he likes rocky coast and surf – in fact, quite the opposite, this is the sandpiper most likely to be inland near mudflats and the like. But take a look.

Note the posture, the color of the legs, and the slight downturn to beak. Least sandpiper? I think so. I should add that the first thing that struck me about him and his companions were they were very small. Click image for larger version.

I’m not thrilled with the images, btw – I need to do better. But they serve my main purpose which is to help me identify what I see. That said, this was a puzzler.

So many of the sandpipers look so similar, but the give away here were the yellow legs. Almost all the others, such as the Sanderling,  have black legs. The Least has green or yellow. The only one he’s likely to get confused with is the much larger Pectoral. That said, I was still confused because I saw this one – and several others – on the rocky causeway – both the ocean side and the bay side and both going from and coming to Gooseberry. They are migrants and the descriptions I found all emphasized that they could be found inland, or at any rate, well away from the water’s edge in mud flats and the like.  They tend to like to keep their feet dry. So what were these doing on the rocks where ocean waves – quite small on this day – were breaking?

They are transients – they nest up north and winter down south.  I saw several others. Here are a few more pictures. Cute little guys and quite active.

Cleared for landing! (Click image for larger view.)

I think it's easier to see the slightly curved beak in this shot. (Click image for larger view.)

These pictures were taken yesterday when the Sun was just burning through a bank of low clouds and made for some real interesting lighting and subtle colors very difficult to capture.

Looking east from causeway - click image for large version.

And I was real excited when I caught a glimpse of a brilliant Goldfinch in the blue asters. I had just put up a poll on the Star Splitter site about  choosing your favorite blue and yellow double star and I thought “and here’s another blue and yellow double!”  .  . . But I really didn’t get the picture I wanted. This was the best I could do.

Goldfinch on asters. Hmmm... shows you how light the Goldfinch is! (Click image for larger version.)

Out past the towers I ran into a couple young Eastern Towhees. These were in the same area I photographed one a few days ago, but I think these were younger – maybe the second generation born this summer?

Eastern Towee juvenile? I think so primarily because of the white patches on the wings. (Click image for larger version.)

Then as I headed back another Goldfinch gave me a second chance to capture this beautiful little bird – though not with blue asters.

Funny - these guys are sure easy to spot, butI haven't noticed them in my other trips this summer. (Click image for larger version.)

On the way out I had noticed four Eiders near the causeway on the ocean side.  I frankly can’t tell for sure if they are youngsters, but I think they are. On the way back I got a good look – and several photos, of what I believe is an older one – female, i think. But perhaps it’s a young male whose plumage is starting to change? I see Common eiders often here, but I still have a lot to learn.  Here are the first four – note the pale, whitish stripe above the eye.

Common eiders - juvemiles? Note pale stripe above eye. (Click image for larger version.)

And here’s the one I had fun snapping, So is this perhaps a bird who’s in an inbetween state of plummage? I found it quite interesting, at any rate – and in the last photo I tried to catch it through some spray, since Eiders really do like to hang out where waves are breaking. Be careful. Don’t mistake some of the spray for part of the markings! (Click any image for a larger version.)

Common aeider - notice it has the same white stripe as the four in the photo above, but in this case it is much whiter.

Oh – one last note. Last week Bren and I, plus Higgins and Eliza took a nice noon time walk on Gooseberry – the highlight of which was a Buckeye butterfly which was kind enough to settle on the path, wings spread, giving me a much better shot of this  beauty than what I had previously.


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