Monday, August 07, 2006

One Pond serves Thousands...

Yesterday Andy Paulios wrote to the Wisconsin Birding Network:

"Just to show you what a difference a day can make for shorebirding, I visited Mike's spot on Saturday and had no Stilts. I did have 3 at the pond on Hylsop road."

I replied with a few thoughts about my observations...

As Andy mentioned, it is sort of interesting how quickly shorebird activity changes at a particular isolated pond in Dane County. This morning on my way to work I stopped at the Ashton/K-Pond and all the STILT SANDPIPERS (there were 20 of them) and DOWITCHERS were gone. So too were the dozen or more SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS that were there the previous evening and the overall shorebird numbers dropped over 75% in my estimation.

Since it's right on my way to and from work, I've been checking it twice each day. Consistently I've noted that activity, diversity and numbers are greatest early evening prior to exodus. In the morning it has been comparatively quieter. One evening there were close to 300 KILLDEER present (numbers were far lower that morning) that were virtually gone the following morning. During most visits I've witnessed a few arrival flocks between 5 and 20 individuals. I suppose it's only obvious that there is some level of movement/migration occurring during the day.

Short-billed Dowticher

I find the arrivals, departures, fluctuation in numbers and diversity of species intriguing and fascinating to ponder. I feel fairly certain that most days I'm looking at an entirely new set of shorebirds and each day there are roughly 200 to 400 of them there. So, one pond in a farmer's field is serving who knows how many thousands of shorebirds (and other birds, too) during migration.

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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