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Shorebirds make a showing in Mecklenburg

Shorebirds galore! Well, not really, but in Mecklenburg County you take what you can get. This county is shorebird-habitat deprived. Usually we only see large numbers of shorebirds here if a severe drought lowers pond levels enough to expose a lot of mud. So when I visited a local wastewater treatment plant recently to look for shorebirds, I was pleased to find a whopping six species.

Killdeer are the common and conspicuous members of the shorebird clan in our area. They are with us year-round, and they were well represented at the facility. They have a diminutive cousin that is superficially similar in appearance, and it was present this day, too. The semipalmated plover is a rare migrant in Mecklenburg, so I was glad to find one.

Not to be confused with the semipalmated plover is the semipalmated sandpiper. In appropriate habitat they are a fairly common fall migrant, and there were five at the facility. Their smaller cousin, the least sandpiper, was well represented, too. They are very reliable at that site. I also was able to spot four lesser yellowlegs. Rounding out the shorebird tally were a couple of spotted sandpipers (without their spots since it is not the breeding season) walking around on the concrete pond edges.

I have written before of my quest to see 200 bird species in Mecklenburg County in 2014. To do that I will have to get a decent list of shorebirds. I added four species to my tally that day, so it was a productive outing. I need about three or four more shorebirds to stay on track. I have until mid-October to get them before they will pass through the area and are gone. It’s been dry lately. Maybe some mud will get exposed and attract a few more than usual. If you know of a pond with shorebirds, let me know. For more photos of the species I saw and a brief identification discussion, check out my blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com.