Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So now 0-for-2 on Fall Twitches to Western New York - the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Dip

You can't see everything .... I guess.

On Sunday, while we were entertaining guests and enjoying one of the last 'pool-days' of the Summer, word started to spread that Gary Chapin had found a SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER in the Rochester area.  I briefly toyed with the idea of running up that afternoon but it's a 9-hour drive from East Hampton so I couldn't have made it by car, and the logistics of flights, cars, guests, etc. meant that it just wasn't going to happen.  So compromising, I drove back to New York City on Sunday night planning on an early start and the shorter 6+ hour drive in the morning.

Up at 2:30am (yay!) and in the car for the drive.  Somehow it doesn't seem so bad in the dark, and with the aid of Charles Dickens on the iPhone Audiobook App, the miles flew by.  As I got closer I was hoping for news that the bird was still present, but apart from Willie D'Anna's excellent directions, no-one published anything.  I assumed though that there would be people out looking for the bird, so when I pulled in to the parking lot overlooking Irondequoit Bay I was a bit shocked to be the first car there.

Still, at least there were no negative reports so I slogged out on to the mud, started scanning the Pectoral Sandpipers, and was soon joined by Brad Carlson (who had seen the bird yesterday and was back hoping for better photos).  While we found a Baird's Sandpiper, and the previous reported Black-headed Gull among a good mix of birds, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was nowhere to be seen and no amount of staring at the 39 Pectorals would make it appear.

Black-headed Gull
So, after nearly 5 hours of scanning, my time was up, and I had to conclude that Rochester had enjoyed another one of its famous one-day rarities.  I thought that after running up for the Franklin's Gull (and dipping that too) I might get a break from the Birding Gods but perhaps the Fork-tailed Flycatcher had used up my karma for the week.  And so on to the next bird ....

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