What better way to end Godwit Days than with a Shorebird Spectacle at the marsh?
Not a bad idea. Led by David Fix, author of Birds of Northern California, the spectacle trip started at the mudflats at Humboldt Bay. Unfortunately, the tide didn’t cooperate and most of the birds were pretty far in the distance.
The view was challenging especially for someone with limited shorebird experience, but I managed to at least identify a few Black-bellied Plovers in the faraway mix.
We moved to the nearby marsh for closer shorebird views.
And Semipalmated Plovers were a nice surprise! I wish I had gotten closer views, they’re so freakin cute.
I’m learning shorebirds, slowly but surely. Okay, way more slowly than anything. Their subtleties are overwhelming. I thought if I left this trip learning one new thing, I’d be happy.
So, the thing I picked up was that as with many birds, a trick to distinguishing Long-billed vs Short-billed Dowitchers, is with their distinctive calls. Long-billed has a short flight call (high-pitched keek), Short-billed has a long flight call (mellow tu tu tu). Here’s a video from the trip of those calls in action:
Whew, that’s tough. Taking it one peep at a time.
After my last official Godwit Days trip, Tomas and I had an entire afternoon free and we made the most of it. We first went to the North Jetty to look for Black Turnstones. We picked them out easily. Pretty bird.
We crossed Humboldt Bay to King Salmon and watched Pelagic Cormorant, Brant, Surf Scoter, and Red-breasted Merganser feed in the bay.
We also watched crabs battle on the rocks. Just as fun as you think.
It was around this time that I realized I hadn’t seen a Wrentit yet. It was one target speices I’d hoped to see while in California. So, we left to try our luck at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
On the drive there I read up on the bird, “common but difficult to see in dense brushy habitats,” the song an accelerating “bouncing ball.” I was excited to meet this bird. We turned onto the visitor center access road, drove slowly with the windows rolled down, and almost immediately, as if we’d somehow summoned the bird, we heard the bouncing ball!
Named appropriately, this bird looks like a mashup of a wren and a bushtit. And it’s just as energetic as both. I was stoked when I finally got a look at this sneaky little bird.
The rest of our mid-day walk consisted of Song Sparrows, Barn Swallows, Black Phoebe, and I even got a quick look at a Merlin!
A little later, I mentioned to Tomas that I hadn’t seen a hummingbird yet on this trip. To which he replied, you mean like that one there? And pointed to an Anna’s Hummingbird right next to us.
Poof, just like that. Hummingbird, check!
We walked and birded until the blazing heat forced us to retreat back to the local brewery where we toasted to all the fun times we had exploring Arcata. Cheers to a fantastic trip! Spotted owl, Sibley, Wrentit!…and of course godwits!
How cute is that?
Tweets and chirps!